Robert Meyer
April 8, 2004
He ain't heavy, he was my brother
By Robert Meyer

Saturday April 3rd, I delivered a memorial message for my older brother's funeral. Two-and-a half years earlier I had done the same for my best friend, hoping the experience would never need repeating. In some ways it was easier to deliver that message, because I had much time to think about what I wanted to say. With such short preparation it is impossible to do justice to a whirlwind tour of the life of Hank Meyer.

The book of Obadiah verse 12 reads, "But you should not have looked on that day of your brother, in the day your brother became a stranger." That sets the tone for this message. Hank was my brother, but in many ways remained a stranger. There were various reasons for that. Among them was that we were 10 years-almost half a generation apart. We were of opposite temperament. We were so different that I used to play a joke on his friends-telling them the truth about our affinity, and they supposing I was a poor liar, when I couldn't keep from smiling.

Hank was very popular in his own circle of acquaintances. His neighbors raved about his kind helping spirit and jovial demeanor. He always seemed to be the life of the party. He got accolades from his most recent employer. To top it off, he was a fabulous storyteller. We hung out together during the years after I got out of the Army in 1980, but it was a superficial relationship at best.

We worked as security guards at a local plant. Hank had a way of convincing you that something beneficial for him, was advantageous to you. I remember how I would hear his garbled voice on my pager, "Say ah Bob, you want to work a couple extra hours? How 'bout if ah, I come in at about four? (imitation of Hank's distinctive voice)"

Hank listed me as his emergency contact at work and on the identification in his wallet. We had also shared a condominium for seven years, and soon afterward I got married Is it not fitting then, that I'm the one delivering this message?" Is it not providence that I'm the one who found him when his boss notified me that he didn't come in to work?

If there is a silver lining, Hank died doing what he liked doing-sitting in his recliner and watching movies. It is also believed he died quickly, perhaps in his sleep.

You really discover the personal side of people when you have to delve into their affairs. The first day I returned to Hank's apartment, the telephone rang, and Hank's hair stylist was on the telephone wondering why he missed his appointment. Looking through his mail, I found a recent Christmas card from somebody who had the deepest affections for him. I have had or will have to break the news to these various people.

Driving Hank's car for the first time, and rummaging through the massive music collection that he spent years acquiring, it dawned on me that only a week prior all these possessions belonged to somebody else. Now they are under my stewardship. I quickly recall that blustery spring day 14 years ago, when I helped him move in. Also the warm spring day last week, when I removed most of his belongings from the same apartment. It was a sad realization.

Yet there is a lesson to be learned in every tragedy. There is a seed of benefit even in this dark storm cloud of human anguish. Isaiah 55:6 tells us to "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call apon his name while he is near." There is indeed a parallel in relationships. We must mend our broken fences of angst and distain, consciously cherishing family and friends while they are near. That is the challenge put before us this day. Psalm 37:36 tells of bitter disappointment for not acting as though time is of the essence. "Again I passed by, and lo, he was no more, though I sought him he could not be found." That describes perfectly the situation the last time I saw my brother. He could not be found, just the physical remains.

So why were we somewhat strangers. It was not all Hank's fault-it was not all my fault, but a confluence of missed opportunities. Let that not be the case in your own relationships and in your own lives. Though Hank was a very big man, I say, he wasn't heavy-he was my brother.

© Robert Meyer

 

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Robert Meyer

Robert Meyer is a hardy soul who hails from the Cheesehead country of the upper midwest... (more)

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