My brother, who is about 2 1/2 years younger than I, has had a life journey that is quite different from mine. We’ve always been similar in appearance. People tell us that we look a lot alike. I think that there are many parts of our personalities that are similar as well. We are both passionate about ideas and for many of our adult lives we’ve been capable of fiery arguments, though the arguing has toned down quite a bit as we have grown older. But our lives have taken very different directions. Still, we have much in common.

One thing that we have in common is that each of us has one daughter. Those two daughters each became mothers this summer. The due dates for the babies were very close to each other, but our daughter’s baby was born about three weeks early on July 12. My niece’s baby was born on August 3. Both of our daughters live a big distance from their fathers. Our daughter is living in Japan while we live in South Dakota. My brother’s daughter lives in New York City while he lives in western Washington.

Despite the similarities, there are some big differences. One of those differences is that we have the good fortune of being able to travel to be with our daughter and her family. A three-week trip to Japan is a big undertaking and a big expense and we have decided that it is a family priority worth dipping into our savings. I’ve no regrets about the cost, but I realize that it is a luxury that not everyone can afford. There are very few jobs where one can take this much vacation and remain employed. Part of the ability to take this trip is the result of being near the end of a long career. I’ve serve for 41 years as an ordained minister and i’ve been the pastor of the congregation we now serve for 24. Over those years I have built relationships and formed trust that have enabled me to have the luxury of being able to take this trip.

My brother is not able to travel this summer to visit his new granddaughter. I don’t know all of the dynamics of his situation and it isn’t fair for me to speculate, but knowing that he isn’t able to make the trip seems a bit sad to me. I wish my brother could experience the joy of holding a tiny grandchild in his arms. Much of what we have done on this trip is very simple and basic living. We have held our new grandson. We have watched him grow. We have studied his face and his features. We have helped our daughter and son in law with ordinary tasks such as grocery shopping and preparing meals, doing laundry and cleaning. Mostly we have spent time together as a family, reveling in the joy of new life in our midst and marveling at the miracle that a baby is. I wish my brother was able to have similar experiences.

From the time we were teenagers our lives have taken quite different journeys. I pursued my academic education early in my life. He pursued education through experience, traveling and working in a wide variety of settings. I have had a single career, working as a pastor for all of the years since I completed my education. He has had many different jobs and has earned his living from a wide variety of employers and sources. I married young and found the love of my life and am still blessed to be married to the same woman 46 years later. He also married young, but was divorced young. He’s had four marriages, two of them with the same woman. He has also experienced times of being single and being a partner in other relationships.

There was a time, when we were younger, when I thought that I should be offering advice to my brother on his life. I’ve learned that such advice was not welcome and that offering such advice isn’t the best way to be a good brother. I’m not sure that I have ever figured out exactly how to be a good brother. I’ve maintained a very close relationship with my sister than I have with either of my brothers. We had a large family and not all of our siblings are still alive, but I have two brothers and I’m not as close to either of them as I am to many other people in my life.

Still, I feel a bit of sadness about my brother and wish that he could be able to spend some time with his new granddaughter.

Many years ago, maybe even before I became a father, I commented to my wife that I thought that I would one day make a good grandfather. It seems silly to me now, but being a grandfather is something that I anticipated and looked forward to all of my life and when I became a grandfather, I was not disappointed. It has been better and more wonderful than I could have imagined. I feel so fortunate to have four grandchildren who are growing up in strong and stable families. I feel so fortunate to be able to visit our grandchildren. I’m well aware that there are families where the grandchildren and grandparents live in the same town while our “near” grandchildren are 1300 miles away and our “distant” grandson lives on another continent. Still, we have the luxury of being able to travel and we live in the era of video chats over the computer. I can read stories to my grandchildren over the computer and I can watch some of their adventures as they occur even when we aren’t in the same town.

To the little ones, I say, welcome to this world! I know that you will find your own path in this life. I hope that it is filled with love and the joys of family. I hope that you grow up experiencing people of many different ages who love and care for you. And I hope that one day you will experience the joy of being a grandparent. It really is one of life’s sweetest pleasures.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!