Three little girls, just one boy, our big brother
And oh, it was fun as we grew up together
You might taunt us and tease us, but always we knew
Your support and protection as together we grew
And always in all we were there for each other
Out of childhood and youth you were still our big brother
And boldly we stepped into new life together
This life of adventure, of faith and of fun
Knowing in all that the race must be run
Always sharing our faith with John, our big brother
And now, older grown, what far paths we have trod
In life’s great adventure of walking with God
And though memories fade of our blessed yesteryear
Yet strong is that bond that still holds us each dear
And we’re thanking God for you, still John, our big brother.
But now my beloved big brother has been taken from all the pain and indignity of old age to his heavenly home. His Australian wife and family were looking to me for memories of his earlier life. As I tried to fill in the gaps for them I had a sweet recollection of our cycling days. (I wrote this story for The Upper Room.)As a family we had wonderful outings on our bicycles. It was war time and hence few cars on the road. John was the eldest, and the only boy at that , so of course he liked to be ahead – though we still laugh at the time we thought he must have already reached our destination, when we saw him, head down, cycling on the other side of the road and about to pass us by. When at last he heard our shouts he was flabbergasted, until he realised he must have come full circle round the roundabout by mistake.
But there were times when it was no mistake. I would be struggling uphill when, from somewhere behind me a strong hand was planted in the middle of my back and I felt myself pushed up to the brow of the hill. He had been willing to give up his lead to come back to help his struggling little sister.
I think that is a lovely picture of what my ‘big brother’ meant to me as a child, and what he has meant to myself and to so many others through his life.
But in his fairly recent relationship with his Australian family and his increasing dependence, John was always appreciated as a gentleman, and the tribute which is very special to me is by one of his step daughters, who wrote of him as the Gentle Man.
With so few who may share my memories, it has been a joy to have his treasury of family photos placed now in my care. My beloved grandmother, and yes, Gran, my great grandmother, and Bob the dog, (how I had loved him) - and of course these wonderful albums of four little ‘angels’, as the photographer had made us out to be, that were presented to my father for his birthday, every other year.
Memories, how precious they are, and how we need to record them while we are able. It has been a joy to read these blogs that are being recorded on the web site of the Apostolic Church, of those pioneers in the faith, so mightily used by God; many of whom paid a great price that we might be able to enjoy this fellowship and this grace wherein we stand.
So as we treasure our own special memories of yesteryear, may we appreciate and love each other just as we are, for today is the present, God’s gift to us. Tomorrow cannot be taken for granted, and Jesus says, -‘Behold, I come quickly.’ May we all live in the light of his soon return.