My Brother the Ironman

Dear Friends,

Today my 51 year-old brother completed the Cozumel, Mexico Ironman triathlon in 13 hours, 23 minutes, and 36 seconds. He finished 1069th among the nearly 2500 competitors and 50th in his class. The Ironman entails a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. This was his first race; the fact that he sustained a compound tibia/fibula fracture 10 years ago heightens the achievement.
Wow, Scott. You’re amazing.

I remember you, Ironman, before you were Iron. Especially one scene replays in my mind: It’s about 1965 and we’re in an unremarkable yellow house on Eldridge Road in Aurora, Ohio. Lightening illuminates our faces as we watch a storm through the window. The thrill of wild weather opens our emotions and we talk late into the night—the wistful, vulnerable talk of two kids who trust one another with deep feelings. You reveal yourself to be emotional, sensitive, even spiritual. I can still see your wide brown eyes and the glow of your young skin, and hear your hoarse, happy voice. Finally the thunder rumbles into silence and our drowsy eyes close.

It seems that we woke, decades later, as adults. You towered nearly a foot over me, spoke an octave lower, and attracted all kinds of beautiful women and cushy corporate jobs. I watched from a distance as through the years you brokered your copious charm in exchange for affection, money, and praise. Nothing ever seemed enough, Ironman. You wanted something beyond what even your charmed life offered. Was this triathlon a way of acquiring that? If so, do you have it now? Our brother Stu that said you “labored mightily” at the end of the race. I panicked a little, thinking of my little brother keeling over, exhausted, on home stretch. What thoughts coursed through your mind as your strength waned? What emotions drove you beyond your breaking point? I recall you saying something about finding acceptance and love through the Ironman. What a strange juxtaposition—an Ironman who, like a young boy, craves love.

Here’s my wish that you’ll embrace the love that “never fails” even when we do (1 Corinthians 13); the love that softens the iron heart even when its melting point is beyond the heat of the Mexican sun.


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