Hi, this is J, BHD’s brother. I have a habit, though long delayed, in popping in on his blog and blowing it up with commentary and observations.
I have been rather absent on this blog for a long time. I have had other things going on in my life. Also, I really don’t like social media and refuse to join Facebook, send tweets, or use other platforms like Instagram. Keeping off social media (even blogs) keeps me in my happy place.
But for my brother, I made an exception to write again on his blog. My recent visit with him was
rather short but filled with many moments that gave me an even deeper understanding of the twin brother who got the best half of that egg that split in our mother’s womb.
That is saying something. My twin and I always have that “twin thing” going on. He knows exactly how I feel and when I feel it. I pretty much can do the same with him. It is uncanny, but he doesn’t have to check when I am available for a call. He just knows and calls me (or vice-versa) and it is like we have nothing else to do but to chat.
I can tell when he is stressed — he speaks to me in English. When he is happy and relaxed, our conversation is in Italian. When he is playful, we may speak some in Spanish, Greek, or Romanian. He throws me “language twists” from time to time to see if I am really listening. But because he does not regularly speak these languages, he occasionally chooses wrong words, or gets the case and gender mixed up.
I laughed until I cried when he accidentally told me in Spanish, “en caso de la inundación, evacuar inmediatamente.” In English, that meant “in case of a flood, take a dump.” In Spanish, the verb “to evacuate” does not translate cleanly from English. The verb in Spanish, “evacuar” means (to most native Spanish speakers) “medical evacuation” or “take a dump.” I’m still laughing.
Back to the reason for this post — some current observations of my twin brother.
* He is so in love with his husband. From his every waking moment, he shows his husband how much he loves and cares for him. I see his husband return the love in his own way. I am happy that my brother and his husband remain in such a close and loving relationship. They demonstrate what marriage is all about.
* He manages stress better than I do. His husband has long-term, permanent effects caused by that illness from which he suffered between 2012 – 2014. Doctor’s visits, medical interventions, and surgeries continue, with repairs for problem caused by toxins produced by the infections he had. My brother is, of course, very concerned. Especially when the effects of the disease’s toxins affected his husband’s brain and the residual effects cause infrequent but surprising outbursts of anger, as well as extreme fatigue. My brother lets a lot roll off his big shoulders.
* My brother does not have a middle name. When we were born as the 14th and 15th children in our family, we joke that our parents ran out of names so they could only give us a first name. I was given my middle name when I was Baptized in the Church (later in life). My brother did not do that. So I nominate the word (or name) “Patience” for my brother’s new middle name. It fits on so many levels. I have never, ever, observed anyone with as much patience as my brother has.
* While my brother doesn’t like it, he now accepts that his husband has given up driving and will not drive himself anywhere. Requests for “take me here / pick this up for me there” continue almost every day or multiple times a day. My brother just smiles, swallows, and smiles again, “what do you need?” and just drives for whatever his husband requests. That’s rather huge since I know my brother really doesn’t like driving (for errands) much. Driving his motorcycle — yes, when he can. Driving his truck to take his husband on errands… well, he smiles and says, “where to?”
* One reason that my brother arranged and went on that big motorcycle ride in Utah was expressly for purposes of relieving stress from caregiving. That trip provided a complete diversion as well as fun. My brother rarely has any fun, so that long motorcycle ride was important to him, his husband, and all of us who love him. (By this post, I am publicly thanking my brother’s friend “S” who accompanied him on this ride and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for keeping my brother alive!)
* Brother remains the ultimate planner. He had a “Plan A,” “Plan B”, and C, D, E… all sorts of plans for caregiving for his husband while he was gone and in ways that his husband would accept and retain dignity. He told me that because he had all those plans and back-up plans, he could relax and enjoy his vacation and remain focused on safe motorcycle riding.
* My brother always, always, looks out for others and not himself. From his passion for his “Senior Safety Saturdays”, to bringing shopping carts abandoned in handicapped parking places back to the grocery store, to taking a cadre of lovely older women grocery shopping, to volunteering for the Muslim Community Center and teaching civics, to serving as “Chair Emeritus” of a regional board, to remodeling homes for those aging-in-place — and more — he is always looking for ways to help others. He says that he “gets it back more” than he delivers. (I doubt that, but my brother is intrinsically motivated.)
* I remain in awe of how well-connected and “in tune” with the community in which my brother lives. He knows literally everybody. When one of his “senior pals” tripped and fell on a damaged sidewalk, my brother had the Director of the Department of Public Works on the phone in an hour… and repairs were made that day! When a gardener at his neighbor’s house was worried about being deported, my brother calmly and clearly explained, in Spanish, what resources were available to help him. (What he didn’t say was how hard he worked to build and support those resources in the county of our birth.) Just a few examples of many that my brother pushes off as “it’s nothin’. I just know who does what and …” He is so humble, but few can rise to that level of community connectedness, especially in such a heavily populated area.
I could prattle on, and I have no worries that my brother will “kill me” because by the time you are reading this, I am back home in Italy. I had to return rather quickly because my father-in-law just got out of the hospital, so my wife and I have our own caregiving to do. I have learned from the master and am confident that if I apply half of what my brother taught me, I’ll be good.
A dopo, mio fratello. Te amo sempre. È la luce che guida la mia vita e mi porta ad essere l’uomo che io sono.
La vita è breve: amate il tuo fratello.