Monday, July 24, 2017

My Son's Little Brother

15 years ago they took a picture standing together at the top of the Empire State Building. This weekend they recreated that pose. It was so much more than mere testament to the passage of time.

When my son was in college he volunteered to be a mentor for a young boy, then aged nine, from a neighboring town. The young boy's dad was very ill and would soon succumb to cancer. Throughout this period my son would try to give comfort and friendship to his new "younger brother". It was a wonderful act on my son's part and one fully in keeping with his large heart and his abiding concern for the welfare of others.

Time passed, my son graduated from college, and for so many that would mark the end of this chapter of one's life. Other matters would intercede and this would become but a bookmark to be recalled with fondness and a measure of pride. But my son is not like most others.

The years have not always treated either my son, or his younger friend with unqualified kindness. My son has struggled with health concerns that have sometimes made the simplest of activities a chore. There have been times where it would have been most understandable if he turned inward to address his own issues.  And for the boy, turned young man, who lost his father at such a young age, tough times did not end with his dad's passing. Yet through each of their travails, there was a constant: my son would never waver in his focus and attention to his "ward".

Even when circumstances prevented these two from reuniting physically, there have been the phone calls, texts and emails. My son has also remained a committed presence to his younger brother's mom, whether it be in the occasional visit to her home, now more than 200 miles from where my son resides, or in remembering a birthday or other important milestone in her life, or that of her two children.

When the young boy's dad was so sick, their family made a trip to NYC and stayed in our house. It was intended as one last vacation as a group, one final memory of time well spent. And it was on that occasion that my son and his younger brother found themselves together at the top of the Empire State Building taking a photo to memorialize the moment.

This weekend the young boy, now a handsome, strapping 24 year old, came back to town for a visit, again using the residence of my wife and myself as temporary home. This time he arrived with a different family, his girlfriend and her daughter who was virtually the same age as that of a young boy who had stayed in our house a decade and a half earlier.

During the course of these past four days, my son, now 36 years old, stood next to his now taller younger brother recreating an image from a time long since passed.

I am proud of my son in ways that he will never fully understand, of his perseverance through the trying times, of his innate goodness, his unending compassion and brilliant mind. But if there is one image that most captures his essence and is of greatest meaning to me, it is of him standing next to his younger brother at a spot that commemorates the most unlikely and enduring of relationships, and the quality of man that my son is and will forever be.


Anonymous said...

Heartwarming. Such a kind and caring family. Thanks for sharing your posts. Really good early morning reads. I look forward to each of them.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I shared this with Ronnie. We love your son.


Anonymous said...

Overwhelmingly powerful and beautiful.

Indeed, the fact that your son's kindness, compassion, respect for others, wisdom, warmth, sensitivity, humor and his commitment to making the world a better place prevails -- despite the challenges he himself has had to face and endure -- are everything to be proud of.....

We love him and his Mom and Dad.

Anonymous said...

again, u made me cry. what a tribute to your son. and, oh yes, his family. lois

Anonymous said...

Very special-
Thanks for sharing!


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story!


NL said...

I didn't know about Richie's "little brother" but I am not surprised that this relationship would endure for so long. Nussie's are keepers.

Dori K. said...

Love this. I remember that 9 year old and how Richie helped him so much. I love that they had a reunion. Such a loving story.

Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful testament to you and Jo-a reflection of you two.
Happy to be in your life😌


Anonymous said...

"Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. We love your whole exceptional family. Best wishes for good health to Richie".


Anonymous said...

What a good story.


Gail said...

Since Mom passed away, I thought I maybe could stop tearing up reading your posts but this one is wonderful, touching and special. It captures the essence of the man Richie has become (and he certainly had that trajectory as a kid and young adult). I've already passed the piece along to my friends who are your fans.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

So beautiful! Thanks for sharing


Anonymous said...

this piece is so outstanding . I LOVED reading it . In fact I read it twice . This definitely should be turned into a screen play or book.
You are talented and a special person with a beautiful son