Lessons Learned from my Big Brother

The most tragic of events happened yesterday.  My big brother, who I loved dearly, passed away from a long illness with a sudden end.  Yes, that sounds odd, but while he’d been ill for more than a year, we had no clue how suddenly he’d be gone from us.  Just this past Christmas, we were together with our siblings and Mom to celebrate the holiday and Mom’s 90th birthday.

It’s always tragic to lose someone you love. This one is especially difficult because my brother was young, had much to live for and because it’s only been in recent years that we’d grown close and I’d learned the quality of this man who’d been there all my life.  Separated by 5 years, he went off to college when I was just 12 years old. He never lived at home again, but I remember standing in the front vestibule of our house one year, waiting  for him to arrive home from college in New York State. I remember him coming home one holiday with his friends, the Zucco brothers. There are more, but relatively few memories because of the distance and years between us.

However, about 15 years ago, we grew closer each year and I have many, many memories from these years. As I watched him slip away just two nights ago, I spent the time thinking of the man he was, what he stood for, and the lessons I’ve learned from him.

Be kind

Work hard

Live beneath your means

Never speak a harsh word

Love those who love you without judgement or conditions

Value, respect and  preserve nature and God’s creatures

Share your knowledge respectfully

Live the life YOU want to live

Be frugal

Be a good a friend

And while it pains me to add this final one, die with dignity. He never complained. He never asked why. He never added to the pain his family suffered. He had two requests: to die somewhere other than a hospital and to be allowed to go quickly on his terms. We accomplished the former, we prayed for the latter.

While he is gone from me physically, his good and honest heart, his memory and his voice will live me until I take my last breath.

Well done young man.

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About Andrea Cole

I am living the good life in beautiful Seattle, WA as a leadership development consultant and career development coach, helping individuals grow their careers, seek new ones, or land new jobs at www.colecoach.com
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