Brothers come in all shapes and sizes. Mine happens to be short, round and bald – but I adore him anyway! (It’s okay Vic – I once described Mom as a “bowling ball with feet” – which she never forgave me for).
My big wonderful brother Vic turned 70 this week.
For the past two decades or so of his interesting life he’s served the Lord as an Anglican minister – a path and choice that has provided both he and many others with some amazing moments. I cannot begin to imagine the positive or healing power or energy he has inspired in others though I suspect the number is in the high thousands.
His faith and skill as a person of the cloth has led him to ministering at a variety of churches, diocese, communities and provinces and inspired numerous tours or trips to the holy land.
I can say without hesitation he’s indeed made a difference in this world, healed a lot of hearts, calmed a number of minds, soothed a lot of souls – and probably saved a number as well.
How far he has come!
It’s been a bumpy ride. A strong believer in God as a child and young man – that faith got kicked to the background for a long time.
The world was always a bit challenging for Vic as a youngster. A brilliant, perhaps overly inquisitive brain inspired undue pressure on his as a youngster. He marched a different beat to many others, already seeing the world in a deeper more complex light than most his age. While not socially inept he was also not part of the ‘cool kids’ class. Slightly shunned or considered a nerdy, scientific genius by some Vic also faced tremendous pressure from Dad to meet and exceed his potential. Dad was adamant that Vic become a successful businessman.
Vic did everything he could to meet Dad’s demands.
It nearly killed him.
In a effort to uphold the family tradition, please Grandpa and Dad and many of his piers Vic attempted a career with the military. At first it went well despite Vic’s problem with authority and being told what to do by someone screaming in his face however it eventually blew up.
The army introduced him to the ‘Men’s Mess’ which was the beginning of the end. During a training session in Penhold the authoritative power of command hit the brick wall of right and wrong that Vic held deep in his heart. When a fellow low level soldier with a physical impairment was being treated extremely abusive and bullied – Vic stepped up. The ensuing verbal exchange and Vic’s refusal to back down got him locked up military style.
Not long after Vic decided his army days were done.
In the meantime Vic’s phenomenal skills with a camera had flourished. Not only did he become the youngest professional photographer in the history of the Professional Photographers Association of America. That garnered him the honour of shooting the portrait of Canada’s Governor General at the time and likewise a job selling cameras at Riblen’s downtown. Eventually Kelowna Woolworth stole him as their camera department manager. In no time young Vic climbed the retail ladder and by a ridiculously early age was named manager of the Woolworth store in Thompson, Manitoba.
It was there the ball began to unravel.
The extreme pressure of running a store where almost every employee was much older than he, and a new marriage which went sour quickly, began the breakdown. In an effort to save the marriage he started a restaurant with his wife (and her family of good cooks) however poor timing, failed economy and life itself got in the way.
Vic began to drink more and more.
The vicious circle turned into a black hole of booze – eventually sucking him down. He lost it all – career, restaurant, wife, self-respect, confidence … gone.
With the two choices in front of him – adapt or die, thankfully Vic found help.
He wound up in rehab for a long time, going through AA and various other programs. Vic eventually spent time at a halfway house in recovery and while there received visits and mentoring from those with faith. It rekindled his earlier childhood belief and when he completed the program remained at the facility as a volunteer.
Eventually Vic decided to put his full energy back into the church and enrolled in bible college. After several long years of ministerial studies Vic was finally ordained. The rest , as they say, is history.
When I look back over the years I marvel at his resolve and strength to pull himself from the pit he tossed himself into. When Vicar Vicars (lol) met with those with addictions, inmates, those in rehab or just regular parish members – they were sharing their hopes and fears with a man who had walked his talk. There is not much that Vic has not seen or done – not much that could surprise or rattle him (that he would show). I watched him console and help various friends and family members over the years including myself and the wisdom, compassion and confidence he shares is inspiring.
Vic was four years my senior and had fled home and the province when I was 12 or 13. We rarely played together as children, had little in common, and had almost separate lives in our efforts to avoid home.
As young adults we rarely talked or visited each other.
During the past 15 years or so, we started to reconnect and I am thrilled by that. He married Tez and I ten years ago and was by my death-bed two years ago when he was told I was done. I maintain his prayers are part of why I am here today.
Regardless, neither my brother nor I really deserve to be here today. In reality it is probably a miracle we are. So it is with a tremendous glow in my heart and thankful tear in my eye that I wish my brother a happy birthday.
Recently Vic’s wonderful partner and wife Carole was diagnosed with significant breast cancer and they are carrying the heavy burden such knowledge carries while awaiting surgery.
I send prayers and blessing to both Vic and his wife Carole. For those of you so inclined I ask you do so as well.
I love you big brother.