Monday, June 13, 2011

My brother

Last week, we traveled out of town. While that sounds great, it really wasn't. It started with a late night phone call on the Thursday before (6/2). The sort that when the phone rings at that time you just know it can't be a good thing. And it really wasn't. My brother was on the other end. The way he said my name, you just knew it would be bad. The deep breathes that followed so that he could deliver the news; the reason he called. Our oldest brother had passed away. I had answered the phone in the loft/playroom, so as I was walking back to my bed. I practically yelled into the phone, "WHAT!?!?" Or maybe I really did. I'm not exactly sure. At that point Steve is upright asking what's wrong. It is like slow motion at that point having my brother repeat those ugly words as I curl up on my bed. This time asking in a whisper what had happened.

At that point, details were sketchy. He had been in Florida on a mission trip with his church. His youngest son on the trip also. He was only 50. He had always been an athlete. A standout football player in his younger days. At forty-eight, he joined a semi-pro team for that season. He lifted weights and ran every morning. He coached his kids in T-ball and football. He went to college in his forties and went on to become a teacher for troubled youth. He was a Christian man. A son, brother, husband, friend. A man who lived his every day and spoke every word to represent Jesus. That one day he would be Home.

His service was beautiful. His oldest son spoke such beautiful words. Even a bit of humor. But one of the many things that seemed to stick out is that he thought he would be fifty when having to stand up there to talk about his dad. I was so proud of him. I always think want to think of him as the little boy of years gone by. But he is all grown up. A Marine. A husband.  My youngest brother also spoke. Frankly, I was surprised that he would be speaking. Telling a tale or spinning some yarn is more his style. He is a storyteller for sure. He said such a lovely words. I just nodded in agreement with him. And also a laugh or two. But it wouldn't have been his words, his way, if you didn't.

Anyway. A screen printing shop in their town printed shirts in honor of my brother. The proceeds would go to the memorial fund set up in his name. On Friday, when my brother was buried, we wore our shirts.

It was pretty cool.

This is the back of the shirt.
The way he lived his life.

W. Dwayne Riley
November 1960- June 2011

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