As we returned from a family trip to Niagara Falls last month that my parents paid for to celebrate their 50th anniversary, my family of 5 and my brother, Chris, had to part ways at the airport in New York to fly home to our respective states. My immediate family and I were about to board, when I noticed my brother had shifted his position to a rocking chair in the window to await his flight time.
The time-worn, laid-back appearance of my brother belies the incredible talent and intelligence that lies under the exterior. Having known this man/child his whole life, and knowing his heart and soul and deepest struggles warms me and I don’t get to see him very often. We have little communication because of his lack of technology acquisition these days.
When other people look at him, they may see a pepper-flecked beard, weary but clear blue eyes, frayed blue jeans, and a stained old-coot hat of high quality but that has seen better days. His hands are strong and his gait is sure; his jaw is set and his thoughts are often far away.
Seeing him sitting there looking over the tarmac, I wondered what I would think if he were a stranger to me. All I see is the chubby-cheeked toe-headed baby boy who ended up with the sweetest little-boy legs when he was in Little League, and has developed his early love of American Indian lore from a young age into an expertise not many could match.
I watch him and I love him and I grieve the disconnect that must, once again, take place, by boarding the flight.