Rose-colored glasses get a bad name. Whenever I hear someone accused of having rose-colored glasses it usually means they are unrealistically optimistic or ignoring reality. Maybe. But I believe everyone needs a pair of rose-colored glasses. When I was young I got a pair from my brothers, who are my heroes. The 'glasses' they gave me have been a gift that has shaped my life.
When I was eight my second brother was born. Before his birth I envisioned all the cool things I would teach him. Visions danced in my head of times when I would teach him how to fish, hunt, play ball and everything else that's so fun about being a boy. But it all crashed one day when my parents came home from a doctor's visit and said my baby brother had mental retardation. I was crushed and I sobbed off and on for days as I saw my hopes and dreams for our relationship suddenly fly out the window. Later I came to realize how selfish this was. But at eight, I wasn't ready to put myself in his shoes. Instead, I saw it as some kind of sentence foisted upon our family. This was the second time. I was just 16 months old when my first brother was born. It never occurred to me to question his mental retardation until I was six, when I became aware that older siblings were the teachers of their younger brothers and sisters in ways that I couldn't teach my brother. For half a year I had eagerly looked forward to finally being in that role. Now it was gone. Clearly we would never be a 'normal' family.
My parents were very understanding and let me have my space to grieve. I don't remember exactly when, but after a while I realized I had to let go my expectations for him and get on with life. That's when I put on my first pair of rose-colored glasses. Maybe we could still have that brotherly relationship and I could teach him some things, even if it wasn't all that I first thought.
But the reality is that both brothers have taught me more about life than I could have ever imagined teaching them. Each used the greatest instructional technique available, teaching by example. I've had living examples right in front of me of what success really is, what faith means and the value of forgiveness. And I have had examples of why disability can be such a misnomer. I've learned from my brothers' examples whenever I put on a pair of rose-colored glasses.
With my glasses I've learned that success is simply getting up one more time than you fall down. I've learned that faith is really trust without reservation, not belief without proof. I've experienced why forgiveness is another word for freedom. I've seen how everybody can teach something to anybody. I've learned that doing your best is more important than being the best and seen how we achieve our greatest value in serving others without judgment or expectation.
Yes, I've learned each of these lessons from my brothers and it took me about 30 years to learn them. I'm still learning. Forty years ago, nobody in our family imagined my brothers would live in their own homes with their own friends and hold jobs like anyone else, let alone be the teachers of life that they are. The values I've learned from my brothers are what I call the gift'those rose-colored glasses. They have given me lenses through which to look at the world without restrictions defined by somebody else. And it has made all the difference.
Submitted by Anonymous
We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.Tell Us Your Story All Everyday Hero Stories