Just a short time ago my older brother, Slade, had a stroke. I threw a few cloths into a suitcase tossed in some beads and rushed across the continent to offer my support through the first part of his ordeal. I take beads because I can do them on the plane, or in the hospital, or waiting to get the oil changed. It keeps me occupied and satisfies my need to be creative. I wouldn’t say I have a lot of talent, and too often I am impatient to see the end product. But I love the challenge and keep trying to perfect my craft. I knew that while my brother was in critical care there would be many hours of sitting and waiting. For a stroke, patience is key; and as I already stated, not something I have in abundance. You wait for a word, then two words, then a sentence. You wait for a toe to wiggle or a finger to move. Hours and hours you wait and the joy of a single twitch is beyond measure. Though the stroke was severe and left my brother paralyzed on the right side, small improvements came quickly, and there was little mental impairment. He was quickly back to his jovial and quick-witted comments. The words came first, the wiggles would come later. So, while we waited I beaded.
In this sad, sad situation I was elated. I had my brother’s undivided attention (when he wasn’t napping) and his willingness to indulge my interests. You see, Slade is an artist, the kind that is creative to his very soul. He taught me how to draw a straight line, mix colors, and at one point we made signs together until I was able to go out on my own and start my own sign business. If there are colors, designs, or patterns, he is a natural at figuring out what works, and what doesn’t. He doesn’t hesitate to tell me when something isn’t right or to encourage me to try a little harder or to be a little more patient in working towards a better product. I doubt I’ll ever have his penchant for perfection, but he inspires me to try harder. So, I beaded with my two hands and he examined my work and made commentary every step of the way. “Make it smaller, more delicate,” was his idea. Upon several attempts I was finally able to give him some aspect of what he envisioned. And as the days passed he was satisfied with my efforts to make a delicate chain necklace, and I was satisfied with his efforts to wiggle his toes. In that way we took care of each other and for me the time offers a sweet memory and ongoing admiration for a brother whose creative genius does not emanate from his hands, but from his heart.