“Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.”
– Emily Dickinson-
In the past few years our family has lost three good men. All of them joined our female-dominated family by marriage and became a band of brothers-in-law.
Pat was known for his quiet and gentle humor, Bill for his love of debate, and Kent for his ready laugh and unfailing kindness. All three died too young, leaving wives, children, and grandchildren to grieve.
Becoming part of a family with nine girls and two boys is no small feat of courage. As my older sisters married, our extended brood kept stretching to fit these new men into our lives. Each of them brought their unique personalities and interests.
Bill had a passionate love for rock music. His kids were raised with the backdrop of MTV. Pat loved to fish and cook, a serendipitous combination for sure. Kent was a Fighting Illini fan born and bred, despite the meager victories they achieved over the years. Of course, these men were so much more, and their families have a host of memories on which to rely in the future.
There are some drawbacks to being in a large family. Resources were stretched tight, the household could be noisy and chaotic, and fights flared up at a moment’s notice.
But in a large family, there is plenty of love and support to go around when times are tough. This weekend we will gather around our sister and her children to shower them with this love and support, to share our memories of our beloved brother-in-law.
Although my grief is not even close to the sorrow of their wives and children, I miss these men terribly because they had truly become my brothers.