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Miles to Go—Brothers for Life


One of my favorite memories of being a young mother is a mental picture of the back of my two sons. Matched winter coats, lunch boxes in hand, walking down our street on their way to school.

“There go the Miles brothers” I would say to their toddler sister on my hip. God go with them, I’d add silently.

I took great comfort that the boys walked together. It was a short distance; two blocks, a guard crossing and one more block, but I was still grateful for what I assumed was the safety of their unity. However, since they’ve become adults, I’ve heard enough stories of their youthful pranks that I wonder if their greatest threat was not each other!

I’ve learned of their shenanigans such as, duct taping each other to a tree, laying wait under brush to scare the ba-jeebers out of the other, or shooting their GI Joe figures for target practice with a twenty-two—in our citified backyard! Gray hair making, if I had known.

For all of their camaraderie, my boys weren’t anything alike. They were similar to the joke about the mom with polar-opposite twins.

The story goes that she takes her twin boys to the doctor, complaining one is a hopeless pessimist and the other an eternal optimist. The doctor prescribes treatment; put the grumpy kid in a room full of the best toys on the market and the happy kid in a room full of manure—for six hours. When she returns and opens the door to the twin with the toys, he is kicking at pieces and saying what cheap, stupid toys they are. She sighs and goes to the next door where her optimist is happily shoveling manure.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“Where there’s manure, there’s gotta be a pony!” he says gleefully.

My oldest was the Eeyore, my youngest, the Tigger. Even though my boys were worlds apart, they had a pact for mischievous fun. Perhaps I cemented that bond when I lectured them after their squabbles.

“You will have many friends—for a season—but you’ll be brothers all of your life. If you choose to be friends, you will have a forever friend.”

Sometimes when they had been particularly ornery, I would place them in two chairs, facing each other, but fifteen feet apart. At first each would scowl at their brother, but within ten minutes or so, one would crack a smile and the other would follow. Soon they would be laughing and ready to play again.

As many of you know, Jon, my second, had a deformity in his kidney and an over-active bladder that meant he was plagued with the socially taboo condition of wet pants for much of his childhood. Brian, his brother, cared deeply what other children thought about himself. Brian’s self-image was threatened by Jon’s special need. Sadly, this meant that, at times, Brian would take the side of Jon’s tormentors, not wanting to be associated with the boy who wet his pants. Of course, Jon was hurt by children’s taunts, but nothing seared as deep as his brother’s turning against him.

Brian continued that kind of separation from his brother, especially in public, until around eighth grade. Then, God slammed him hard with a series of incidents. The first happened when Brian read a story in his literature class. It was about an older brother who was delegated to take care of his younger brother—a boy with a serious heart condition. In the story the older brother feels unfairly saddled with his charge until the younger brother dies a dramatic and gruesome death. Brian came to me in tears and then, embraced Jon, sobbing, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” God is faithful to lead us from treacherous territory, with whatever it takes.

Both boys are grown men now, who love and honor God. Brian cares for his brother and tries to provide for his needs in many ways with a commitment to always ‘be there’.

Interestingly, Jon has always loved his brother deeply. Brian is his hero. Jon has never wanted to compete with Brian. We used to measure the children on the jam of the kitchen door, dating each pencil mark with their progress. When Jon realized he had passed his brother in height, he refused to be measured again. Jon is now at least two inches taller than Brian, but only physically.

Like any other two people, there are times they are close and at other times distant, but one thing I know. They’re still brothers who have chosen to be friends.

©2009 Marianne Miles. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

*Copyrighted back columns are available for reading in archives of Comfort Cafe. Contact Marianne for reprint availability.

Marianne Miles is a free lance writer intent on bringing comfort to mom’s of special needs kids. As she and her husband raised their children, including a son with special needs, Marianne developed a passion to support hurting mothers. Her message revolves around the love and provision of God, even in times of trial. Marianne has worked as a volunteer in the public schools, home school mom, and a teacher in a private school. She writes on the subjects of family and education in the form of devotionals, magazine articles, and poetry. Marianne welcomes reader’s comments and publisher’s questions at Marianne_Miles@yahoo.com.

  1. […] sons. Matched winter coats, lunch boxes in hand, walking down our street on their way to school. Brothers for Life, by Marianne Miles, Miles to […]

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