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He Ain't Heavy; He's My Brother

I woke up this morning with that song on my mind, “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother,” and I know why. I keep thinking about one of my fellow teachers from my days in the high school classroom. He was a big, burly fellow, nothing delicate about him, but he had a heart of gold. He used to take his elderly mom and aunt on vacations all the time; once, they even flew to Hawaii. I thought that was admirable. I know they slowed him down a lot with their senior citizen pace and senior citizen ways, but my friend still took them for the ride. But that’s not what makes me associate the song with the man. It’s what he did when he found out that one of his brothers (he had several) was very sick and didn’t have the means to pay for his increasing medical expenses. My friend decided that he’d take in his brother and foot the bill. He downsized everything, selling or giving away anything that was financially cumbersome, including his house, buying a small camper trailer and moving it to the local KOA grounds where he could live cheaply and allocate most of his small teacher’s salary to his brother’s medicines, doctor visits, and hospital stays. For months, he came to work and then went home to be nursemaid to his dying brother, sacrificing his meager holdings so his brother could have the best quality of life in his last days. This is the stuff that saints are made of. My big burly friend gave to the bitter end, and though not many people know the price it cost him, I know, and now you know. In the eyes of the world, he may be just another man, overweight and balding, but in my eyes, he’s got a glow about him, the glow of self-sacrificial, unconditional love that sets him apart and makes my eyes glisten with tears just at the thought of him. And if I asked him why he did it, he’d probably say, “Shoot, it wasn’t a big deal; that was my little brother.”

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