Note To My Brother; We Won The Lottery Of Life. . . .

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Rob and I at Lake James

A True Story

As I sit with my computer in hand and prepare to make my journey on several legs of a trip, my final destination going forward is to visit my big brother in California in a few days. You see, Rob is on a destination of his own. He has been on it for some time. He has been writing about it in Essays and it is the “Awakening” which he believes is at hand.

Rob is also quite ill. I haven’t seen him in person for at least 5 years, but none the less, we are very close and have always been that way. It isn’t that we talk or see each other frequently, because that isn’t the case. Yet, we are very close.

Rob is one year older than me. He is my big brother. I write this blog as I have written many more with a true story. Each is intended to convey a lesson to help the reader be more successful in business and in life.  I have posted over 90 blogs over the last year and shared many stories but this one is the humdinger. It is a confession of sorts. Whatever good comes you find in this blog is the product of others. Much of my essence and anything good in me, I owe to my big brother, Rob and all my siblings.

I have 11 siblings.  I “won the lottery of life”.  For I was born with Rob already there to greet me even as a newborn. While I was still unaware of his presence, the die was cast. Many of you know what I am about to talk about. For you have someone in your lives like Rob.  As a result, my way in life was already made so much easier than so many others. They were not born as lucky as I to have a big brother to pave the way to better understand the world and succeed in life as a result.

Rob was ahead of me in school. He excelled academically. So did my older sister, Dian. When I entered elementary school, the nuns assumed I was brilliant and treated me so much better than many of the other students. When I couldn’t grasp a concept, I would come home from school and Rob would show me in a few simple steps how to understand a concept that was clear as mud, until Rob explained it. He tutored me and never charged a nickel. I was lucky to have him as a tutor. He helped me through my early years.

My siblings and I were all expected to have jobs when we came of age. First a paper route. Next, we caddied. After that we graduated to work in grocery stores. I followed that path. But Rob proceeded me in each instance showing me how to avoid the neighborhood bully on our paper route on Riedmiller avenue. He showed me how to properly carry my newspapers and to collect the 35 cents per week we charged for the Journal Gazette. We collected from some people who said they didn’t have it week after week. Without Rob’s coaching and experience, I would not have been able to cope with the stress of collecting from deadbeats. Rob showed me the humor and irony of a little kid chasing someone for 35 cents who would hide behind their curtains, and to learn not to take it too seriously. Life went on and I learned to deal with that bump in the road. I had a guide. How he knew these things, I will never know.

When I got my first job as a caddy, again Rob preceded me and stood by my side guiding me and protecting his little brother as some of the older caddies insisted I be initiated with the “belts”. Or, in the alternative, given the option of smoking the footlong cigar. Rob showed me how to go through the belts with minimal pain, preserve my dignity, and become accepted by all the other caddies. Without that guidance, I could have been ostracized and bullied for the two years that I worked there. He showed me how to socialize in various settings appropriately as a child.

When I got my next job at Maloley’s grocery store, it was Rob that paved the way by working there first and showing me the dreaded “bottle sorting dungeon” as it was called by all the employees. It was an area in the back corner of the basement that was dark and damp with little room to move about. But we had to sort the bottles into separate wooden boxes to be returned to the bottler. It was drudgery and you had to be bent over the entire time because the ceiling was so low.  And if you knew the right words, and had the skill to avoid it, you would avoid it at all costs. Rob again showed me the way and enroute, I got to meet the Cuban who worked the produce counter. He had the best pictures of naked women hanging in his section of the store in the basement. But Rob made sure that my innocence was lost in small and appropriate stages as I reached puberty.

Rob coached me through high school. He helped me avoid all of the things that lie in our path to divert us toward disaster while growing up during those formative years. Rob was always there to counsel me on what I could expect to experience before I got there. When I entered high school, the nuns were already prepared to expect great things from me as a result of my older brother and sister’s reputation at Central Catholic High School. All through high school he guided me and kept me on the right path and never once did he veer from being the best role model one could wish to have in life. He guided me through the crucial teen years. He was always someone I could confide in and would set me straight when I needed it, and I needed it a lot.

Finally, I went away to college and Rob continued with his education and gradually got degrees from St. Francis College and  Catholic University in Washington, D.C. I even visited him once and hitch-hiked to Washington during the winter break. There I got a dose of Rob as the mature collegiate intellectual. He was always centered. His disposition was always calm and cool. He shared his philosophical musings with me and others who couldn’t help but be amazed at his ability to see the real essence of things with clarity of vision. Whenever I have been in his presence as an adult, a calm comes over me. My siblings often share those same feelings.

Rob lives simply, he always has. He has never been concerned about material things. Instead he has always spent his energy simply being a good person. He would never hurt anyone or anything. As I started to tell you, Rob is not well, nor am I to think that Rob may not be here to pave the way the rest of my life. He has always been there when I needed him and he has always been there for others as well.

Not everyone has a Rob in their lives. I do. I won the lottery of life and so have all of my siblings. I see it in the way they gather around him to support him and demonstrate their love and affection for him. There is a reason why they feel this way. We hope he makes it through this challenge, and certainly all of us offer our prayers in different ways. Rob is just one point of light in my life, but a very bright light. Perhaps the one best light that has kept me from danger. I have eleven other points of light and, of course, my parents who put into motion everything that has flowed from their example. And, of course, there are those who are in our lives now who, I am fortunate to have who support me when I need it. I am truly blessed.

I wish for each of you who read this a fraction of the love and affection Rob and my siblings have shared with me, for indeed, we have truly won the lottery of life.

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