My Brother’s Life, Celebrated

Joseph Campbell, the great theologian, philosopher and teacher, who wrote the pivotal work on world religions, and who you may remember from the PBS series “The Power of Myth,” once said that what human beings are seeking is not “meaning” in life–but rather an experience–an experience of the Rapture of Being Alive.  The rapture of being alive!

For me I experience the rapture of being alive when I hold a newborn baby! When I’m walking in crampons on the glacier in southern Patagonia and see that surreal blue color in the ice caves—-or, when I am dancing the Argentine Tango with someone in a great connection,—-and more–of course–. . . . .

When is this for you–when is it that you feel the rapture of being alive?

I think my brother Ed felt it at West Point as a cadet and as a cheerleader for Army on the football field–I think he felt it jumping out of airplanes–how many times, Karen? 286!  I think he felt it engaging in the theatre of war, (he made three tours to Viet Nam, was a Green Beret major, and the first American wounded in that conflict).  He clearly felt it being in love with a beautiful woman–and there were many as we all know–he had a good eye for female beauty!

And he felt it just being around his grandkids–he loved you all so very much. And he was so proud of you!

I think he felt that rapture when he was with his dear friend, Jane–you gave him so much joy and peace, Jane–thanks.

And I think he felt that rapture when he was with family–connecting with family members near and far was so important to Ed.

As a young girl I barely knew him–we had different families—different moms and the same dad–Elza Edward Nidever–who my brother was named for and looked very much like, tho a lot taller and more handsome.
He was 10 yrs older so when he was entering West Point and leaving Fresno, our home town, I was barely conscious—just 8 yrs old.
Most of my brothers–all 5 really–didn’t like being compared with their dad–our father–but they were all very much like him–Like him–Ed wasn ‘t very good at expressing his feelings-at least in normal ways with words–He could do it in weird, unexpected, inappropriate and outrageous ways for sure! And that was like his dad too–Nevertheless–Ed’s feelings ran deep.–Deep and wide.

He knew a lot of loss and sorrow in his long life–losing his only full-blooded brother had to be the worst–it was mine for sure–then he lost his mom, many comrads in the service, wives and family experiences thru divorce, wealth and property, status . . . .even the respect of folks he cared about. I understand he nearly got thrown out of Leisure World . . .due to his crazy antics…that was Ed! Silly grampa.

When he started losing physical strength and the ability to do the things he loved–that was tough- Several years ago he shared with me that he was never free of back pain-(a remnant of more than 250 jumps out of airplanes)-except when he was on the dance floor–I was amazed at this–how powerful the mind is that when we are doing something we love–like dancing–a pain that is usually with us–can disappear! Yet, In all this loss and pain over many long years– I never heard him complain–he wasn’t a whiner…he didn’t seem to think he was dealt a bad hand….

In fact, it seemed to me, that as he grew older, he got more generous, more caring of others. He never failed to remember my birthday. His funny cards with $100. bills taped inside were always a welcome treat. And a blessing for me on a pastor’s salary.  At Christmas he seemed to single-handedly support the mission at Koinonea Farms–sending almond bark to everyone! We grew to anticipate it’s arrival in our family during advent season.

I’ll miss that annual Christmas chocolate. And I’ll even miss the constant stream of funny emails–delete, delete, delete–the ones marked “special for Bun” or “special for Rod and Bun” (cuz we’re both clergy)–I saved under “Ed’s funnies.”  I look forward to revisiting those in the months to come.

But mostly I’ll miss just knowing he’s there, the smile so broad and that twinkle in his eye.
I loved my brother and I know he loved me. Karen, Britt, Wes, kids–Jane—-he loved all of you much more.

Ed’s spirit is free now from all that pain–the back pain that sometimes he didn’t feel when dancing–
So I like to think of him as dancing–not dancing with the stars–but dancing in the stars—free of pain, regrets, just dancing into his eternity with that disarming smile and those twinkling eyes.

He did what he could.
He gave all he could.
He struggled always to be a better person than he was–day by day–aware more than anyone, of his shortcomings and mistakes.
Thanks be to God for this brave-hearted and fearless leader, this volunteer servant, this good friend, husband, uncle, brother, father, grandfather, —this child of God.
Amen

About tangobunny

Pastor Bunny went on sabbatical leave to Argentina July 28-November 4, 2010, funded by a pastoral renewal grant from the Lily Foundation. It was her second visit to AR. Since then she's been back three more times and toured the country. She loves the Argentine people as much as the tango and calls Argentina her other home.
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