I have been pondering this for awhile, I guess because after our friend Melvin died, so many times I was asked, "So, now, how were Boone and Melvin brothers?" And, no, there is no deep dark family secret that no one knew about. Melvin requested that Boone be listed as his brother in his obituary, because they were heart and soul brothers. The kind that love eachother without reason and without rules. They did have the same last name, but as far as genetics, they were not blood relations at all.
My old tried and true friend, Mr. Webster defines brother as 1: a man or boy related to one another by having the same parent. 2: a close male friend who is like a brother. 3: a fellow human being. 4: a fellow member of the same race, church, profession or organization, or 5: any man. So really, it seems we are all brothers. And did you know that the Bible uses Brother 465 times?( According to Cruders Concordance.) In Proverbs 17:17 it says " A friend loveth at all times, but a brother is born for adversity."
So, how are Melvin and Boone brothers?They were brothers who discovered each other when they were teen agers. They rode their first motorcycles together, finding they both loved the wind in their faces, the creak of leather jackets, the stomp of boots, the roar of the engine, the roll of the wheels, the iron horses between their knees. They worked together, brick layers, pointing out buildings the rest of their days - "right there, in that corner, me and Mel, we laid all those bricks" - stories unfolding about that day, and that time and those people. When Mel drove Truck, and Boone had a day off, they rode together, mile after mile, speaking all the things that lay in their hearts, good things and bad things and things that meant here nor there. At the end of the day, when Boone would jump down, he would hear Mel say, "coming again tomorrow, Boonie?" . Because there was never enough days to say all that brothers need to say to each other.
There is no compiling how many hours they spent together in the sauna. Sweating and steaming out the dirt of the body and soul and coming out relaxed and cleansed from inside out. No measure of the tears they shed together, no gauge of their laughter. Mel was the quiet brother, Boone was the one who had to make rivers of words. They could disagree and still respect each others opinion. They could argue with out rancor. They could go on a two week trip on the bikes, sleeping in the same hotel room every night, eating every meal together, and not be sick of eachother, and not run out of fun and talk and adventure.
When they lived thousand of miles apart, they were still as together as if they were side by side. Not see each other for months, but start right where they left off. Boone never knew a "birth" brother, being an only child. It sometimes baffled him that our seven sons could squabble and not want to be close in every thing. When they both had quit smoking, they made a pact that if either of them knew they were dying, they would smoke with each other until the end. And, yes, when Mel knew he only had a few months left, they did. Boone in New Hampshire, and Mel in South Carolina every day, one on his porch , the other in his truck, (it was winter in N.H.), they talked on the phone until the butt was done. Laughing and crying and remembering their lives together, those two old white bearded men, blowing smoke rings around their hearts.
They weren't sad, those two brothers. They had taken each day that God had given them and lived it to the Lord. They had seen their families raised and loved their grandchildren. They rejoiced in Mels good fortune. Free from pain and sin and sorrow, he waited to be gone, and Boone could only be happy with him, because, who would not want that for his brother?At last in the hospital
they sit together, Mel in the bed, Boone in the chair. The crowd of visitors has left. "Are you afraid, Mel?" "No, Boonie, I'm not afraid. I'm waiting for Jesus." Then, "come sit beside me, Boonie." Those two old white bearded brothers, nestle up on the bed, in eachothers arms, promising to meet again, on a newer day, in a holy place. They hold each other up in great joy,and know they will never see each other here again.
Brother, where art thou? Gone on ahead, leaving behind you brotherly love, your trust in Gods faithfulness, all those unforgettable years.Even now, a year later,Boone hears the whisper of your voice, the profound, the funny, the sensible things that you said. Sometimes he talks to you, in the sunshine or in the night watch, reminding you of your advice and thanking you for being his brother. I wish you all a brother,how Boone and Mel were brothers: from the heart and from the soul.