My brother—what a treasure!

GROWING UP WITH two sisters—Marian (2 years older) and me (4 years younger)—couldn't have been all fun for our brother, Bob. A boy would naturally want a brother. Then, when Bob was 13, Mother gave birth to our sister, Jeanne. I still get a laugh when I recall Bob's immediate reaction to the news: "Not another one!" Nevertheless, even though plenty of teasing took place between brother and sisters as we grew up together, Bob loved us, and we loved him.

I've been thinking a lot about Bob lately. He passed on last month. But I'm not thinking of him sadly. I'm treasuring his life—and letting it continue to enrich my own. This seems to me the way to truly honor one who has gone on. I want to gather into consciousness everything about his character that represents his eternal identity as God's precious child, and let it make me a better person. His life is going on, as is mine, because God is our Life. God is singing over Bob with joy (see Zeph. 3:17), and so am I.

Perhaps because Bob was closer to me in age than either of my sisters, I idolized him. As a little girl, I named my first doll "Bobby," and in many ways I copied my brother in tomboy fashion. Bob was a natural athlete. Though he was small in physical stature (not quite 5 ft 4 in), he was agile and quick. When his high-school football team bent over in a huddle, Bob was the only one standing up straight, but when he carried the ball for them in a play, there was no stopping him from carrying it all the way down the field for a touchdown. He was known as "Speed" Merchant (our family name).

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