We’re ten years apart, my eldest brother and I. You’d think a full decade’s gap is more than enough for people to tell easily who’s the younger bro and who’s the older. Not quite. On several occasions, people have mistaken me for the more senior sibling. And when this happens Kuya Arnel just smiles and does nothing to rectify the unjust assumption, while I fumble for words to correct the rude stranger (hah!). Maybe it’s the height – I’m a few inches taller…
Growing up, Kuya and I were not close. He started preaching at age 17 and so he was away or busy most of the time. Because of his calling, I saw more of him from the church pew than from the living room sofa. When I went off to college and he and family relocated back to Davao from Iloilo , things took a turn for the better. Kuya and I began relating with each other more, mostly during my vacations in Davao. It was a delightful discovery that there was a friend in this preacher-brother; that it’s not just blood that is binding us – our hearts have been knitted together in fellowship.
Last month, the kuya and the bunso were on the phone catching up. Kuya‘s stories are always interesting and many times a source of inspiration. We are the family’s clowns and so we naturally find ways to enjoy laughs with each other. But for months he has been under tremendous stress, growing weary from the pressures of life and ministry, and I could sense this over the phone. He told me he would be speaking at a conference in Dagupan and Baguio end of April. I urged him to spare a day or two after his engagement to spend some down time with me in Manila before he flew back to Davao. I would take time off from work to host him. Nothing grand, just two brothers relaxing and catching up.
I knew he would object to the “inconveniences” that having fun in Manila entailed, but I was patient and firm. He complained when we took sardine-packed MRT rides. He complained when I checked him in a budget hotel, sarcastically muttering under his breath, “Third world!” (Haha!) He complained when we took a long walk on University Ave before dinner. He complained when… oh, for a minister, he was complaining a lot!
And yet all the while I knew he really wasn’t complaining. He was having fun 🙂 As much as he says he dislikes adventure and travel, I suspect deep down he longs for new things. And I think I’m right. “Complaints” and all, he did seem to have enjoyed our time together – enough to blog about it right away.
Grace does come to us in unlikely packages. For that short time last week, I didn’t mind playing the kuya, cajoling a complaining minister to take a break and loosen up a bit. If it was fun for Kuya, it was doubly fun for me. After all, it’s not every day that I get to spend time with family.
Sa uulitin, bro?