As a big “Duck Dynasty” fan (a Scott Drotar guilty pleasure), I frequently find myself watching those hairy, goofy Southerners. As I watched the other night, there was a true “brotherhood moment” between Willie and Jase, in which they shared a moment only brothers can understand. I will not even try to explain that connection, but hopefully most of you know what I mean, and if you don’t I apologize. This got me thinking about my own younger brother, Ryan, and the amazing bond between us.
My brother is my best friend, most trusted, honest confidant, and one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. Growing up as kids, I always had to have someone with me. So, while my parents were out doing yard work, running errands, or cooking dinner, Ryan and I were usually left together to look after each other. This meant that we spent an enormous amount of time together, and as a result the brotherly bond between us strengthened considerably. Even now that we are adults, and only get to see each other a few times a year, our connection is stronger than any other relationship in my life. He has grown into an amazing man, and I always smile when describing him to people (I’m even smiling now). The number of things he has learned to do to take care of me, and the equivalent number of things he has had to sacrifice because of my disability, is mind blowing. Yet, he does it all, and at the same time he still treats me like any other “normal” brother, complete with “purple nurples”, “trebuchets,” and other juvenile activities. We tease each other, go to each other for advice, and talk about things we just cannot talk to anyone else about.
Some of my favorite memories with Ryan are the road trips we have taken together. We have gone on multiple drives of 10 hours or more, and even though a long day stuck in a van doesn’t sound all that special, I remember them fondly. We would just cruise in the “Drotarcade,” amp up some tunes, chow down on an endless supply of Twizzlers and Gobstoppers, and talk about anything and everything to fill the time. I always felt like we learned a lot about each other and grew closer on these treks. Not only did we bond as brothers on these trips, but I also admire the responsibility that Ryan accepted in making these drives with me. He was not only the lone driver, which is a lot to take on with a trip that long, but he had to drive extra cautiously since I was in the car. In addition to all of the stress of the actual driving though, he also took on all of the responsibility of taking care of me on the way. He had to provide all of the assistance I would need eating, taking my medication, and even using the restroom. This is an enormous amount of pressure for anyone to take on, but even more so for a man only 20 years old. He did it as if it was nothing though. He just did what needed to be done so that we could take our trip, and he did so in a way that made these days very special to me.
The connection we have is deeper than any words I could ever come up with so I’m not going to try. I will say that no matter how long we go without seeing each other or how far apart we live, whenever we do get together, our relationship picks up right where we left off without missing a beat. And no matter how mad one of us may make the other (believe me we have had some fights), as soon as we need each other all is forgotten. No amount of time, distance, or disagreement could break our bond, because we are brothers and nothing can break that.
To my little brother, I want to say “Thank you.” I am so proud of the man you have become, and I hope that I have had as much of a positive impact on your life as you have had on mine. I can without doubt say that Roll Models would never have happened had it not been for your help and wisdom over the years. You have given me courage, pulled me back from depression, and been a constant source of strength in my life. I don’t know where our lives will take us next, but I do know that wherever it is our bond will remain, which is enough for me.