You know, you have family you are born into, and then you have family that comes up on the porch, opens the screen door and walks right in, sits down, and enters into the story seamlessly. You kind of have a hard time remembering when they weren’t there.
My brother-in-law is one of those folks.
I like to call him Leroy.
I remember when I first heard of him, but I don’t remember when he walked in and I met him. My sister had been staying with me and my girls over the Christmas holidays in 2005, while my husband was deployed. My BIL worked with my sister in Atlanta, and they were just friends. He had called her and said he was coming down to Macon for New Year’s Eve, that he wanted to get out of Atlanta. She started to go meet him but decided not to enter into the crazy foolishness that can be New Year’s Eve in the “big city.” When she called him and said basically, hey, just kidding, I’m not coming, his reply was that’s okay, I’ll be in town through tomorrow. They had a New Year’s morning breakfast the next day. I guess the old saying about what you do on New Year’s Day you’ll do all year long is true, because after that breakfast I just don’t remember Leroy not being a part of our lives.
This man is somebody really special, though if he sits down to read this, he’ll probably say, oh please, and push it to the side because something needs doing. That’s one of the things I really respect about him. He’s a guy who gets things D-O-N-E–done. In looking back through my old photos, I don’t have very many, because he’s rarely still long enough for one to be taken.
He’s a great Daddy. My sister stayed at home with their son for a year. After that time, with many factors playing into the decision, my brother-in-law left his job to stay at home with their son. He sacrificed five years of his career to be a big part of his son’s life in a society–let’s face it–that doesn’t always know what to do with that choice. He gives his love and affection so freely with his words and actions that it moves me to tears. He’s a tough guy, but not always.
Leroy’s an awesome uncle too. Two years ago my oldest was away in north Georgia on a youth trip. She had some health issues come up and needed to come home. It was this guy who drove and picked her up since he was closer. I drove and picked my girl up from their house in Duluth, and we had a nice unexpected day with him and my nephew before heading back.
It was in 2009 that he truly shined. And has since then. When Daddy was admitted to the hospital in town on August 24 and transferred to Emory five days later, it was the beginning of a period in our lives of exhaustion, worry, frustration, and coping. Daddy was sent home after about a month at Emory. It was Leroy who drove Mama and Daddy home. He had been so good about checking on them at the hospital or holding down the home front so my sister could be there as much as possible. When Daddy came in the door at home that night, it was Leroy in the background, making sure everything was going smoothly, toting bags, making a pit stop, grabbing a slice of pizza and driving back to Atlanta that same night. He made so many of those trips. He got up at oh-dark-thirty, drove the two and half hours to my parents’ house, arriving soon in the morning, helping them into the van, and taking them up to Emory for Daddy’s treatment. Later that day he made the trek back down to bring them home before he headed all the way back to his house. When things needed doing, he was the one who talked it over with Daddy, such a gracious respect, and then he did them. He and Daddy had something special. It was Leroy who went with me over to the cemetery to pick out Daddy’s plot on what turned out to be one week before the funeral, five days before Daddy left this world. He was patient as I wandered somewhat aimlessly around the old country churchyard, reading gravestones and calling him over to see them too. It’s the quiet moments like this that truly make me appreciate all he is.
For the fifteen months that Mama lived without Daddy, this man was right there to help with things as Mama needed. She respected and appreciated his opinion and would often ask him what he thought. He always had her best interests in mind. He’s a good guy like that. And when she went in for her HospitalStay, he never blinked an eye at my sister staying indefinitely down here. He came down as often as he could. He took that time to make things better for Mama around the house, straightening up some things–for example, getting and putting together a shoe organizer for the back door–he wanted things to be just right when she came home. Which, unfortunately, never happened. And his heart broke too.
Mama loved all of her children’s spouses like they were her own. And Leroy was special to her for sure. She fussed at me or my sister when we would tease him–you leave him alone, she’d say. I accused him of trying to be her favorite. She’d grin really big at me and say, “Trying nothing.” And he’d laugh. Yeah, he was her oldest. And seeing as how that used to be my spot, I think I’m okay with that. And sometimes, just maybe, he was her favorite too.
I always wanted an older brother. I thought it would be cool. And what do you know, I was right! Because my BIL, whom I will henceforth call my big brother is giving us all a great gift–that of togetherness. He and my sister are moving back to our hometown. I’m so thankful for that gift, and I won’t let them forget it.
Today is my big brother’s birthday. In honor of him and his special day, I won’t tell how old he really is (but yeah, older than me!) and I share this video. Because he’s who they’re talking about in this video. He is that friend. He’s one of those legendary good guys. I’m lucky he walked through that door and joined us. (And didn’t run away hollerin’.) Seamlessly. Love you Leroy. Happy Birthday!