Ode to My Brother-in-Law… You’ll Thank Me, in Heaven


If we’ll truly be rewarded in heaven for all the good deeds accomplished in life, my brother-in-law Mike, will surely have the sweetest piece of real estate, in all eternity.  Not for all the hundreds of hours he’s worked late to save for his three internationally-adopted children, or the mission trips he’s gone on, or the hundreds of favors he does for friends and family without batting an eye… but quite simply, for being my brother by default.

So many times in life we take for granted our friends and family, and how good we have it. Not everyone has a friend to call when you’re lonely, or in a bind. Or a sister to call when you need a sitter last minute or an answer to desperate texts from the grocery store…”does mom’s casserole call for cream of mushroom or cheddar?!”  I’d say I’m generally grateful, but this past weekend left me with extra time to ponder my heart felt appreciation of my ever-selfless brother-in-law, after I unknowingly poisoned my car with old lawnmower gas, seizing my entire engine. What. Is happening.

Kids: “Mom what’s wrong with the car, what are you gonna do?!”

Me: “I dunno guys. Let’s call Uncle Mike.”

So as I have in so many instances through the years,  I sat there waiting for Mike, after doing my best to ‘handle’ the situation by spilling fuel injector cleaner all over myself and making multiple trips to a special corner of the underworld I call Auto Zone. Of course Mike insisted on coming right away, or at least as soon as he could find his “automotive diagnostic scanner.”

Me: “Your automotive what?!”
Mike: “Never mind just sit tight.”

Poor Mike. When this man chose to marry my 19-year-old sister Jill decades ago, he had no idea what he signed up for. Yes, he was getting the sweetest, most beautiful future mother of his six children. But he was also inheriting her sister, at that time a 21-year-old single mom with zero life skills and a lot of driveway to plow. And drains to unclog. And an egregious lack of of small engine fuel knowledge.

Through the years, this involuntary kin of mine has truly set the standard for brother-in-laws ‘round the world. This man has not only been my consistent roadside rescuer through the decades, but he’s taken handiness to an unearthly level. When my washing machine knob started leaking, he literally fashioned a spout of what I think might have been a toilet paper tube. When I had clogged garbage disposal pipes, he took a deep breath, descended into the basement, and came up victorious three hours later looking two shades paler, and covered in sludge. To this day we don’t know what he did. When I couldn’t get my Christmas tree out of the second floor of my first apartment, there was Mike, hurling it out the window and hauling it away before the neighbors could close their jaws.

As much as I appreciate his way with a drill gun (took me an hour, per blind installation before Mike showed up) he’s more importantly been a treasured role model for my first son, who never had an active father in his life, and a beyond devoted father to his own six kids. He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever known, which I think has more to do with his desire to provide for his family, than his seeming ADD (vote’s still out, haha).

Mike did have a short reprieve from his brotherly burden when I was married years ago, which probably made it even harder for him to receive my first post-divorce phone call seven years later, on  my own once again.

Me: “Ugh could you come look at my yard when you get a chance, I have weeds growing like crazy and I literally just mulched!”

Mike:  “Girl, you bought potting soil, not mulch. You’re basically feeding your weeds. I’ll bring the right stuff over tomorrow.”

I could go on for pages about not just the domestic binds he’s rescued me from, but it’s the heart behind all the benevolence, that’s most special. Anyone could begrudgingly change a flat tire or install exterior lights behind gritted teeth, but Mike has either masterfully hidden his spite while praying I find a husband, or has simply accepted his helpful role, with grace. I’m thinkin’ it’s the latter. I’ve always been a strong believer in the sovereignty and provision of God, despite anything we’ve lost or lack, and Mike has always been the Lord’s way of making sure I’ve felt supported, and not alone, even when externally, it seemed I was.

So thank you, Uncle Mike, for all the ways you’ve come to the rescue- putting up my tent in the dark because I can never make it to camp on time- tolerating persistent ex-boyfriends determined to befriend you- and pretending it was perfectly practical to experiment with old gas despite the subsequent fuel pump replacement.

And when you get to heaven, all I can say is….you’re welcome.

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