My brother taught me a lot growing up.
He taught me how to play everything from pool, pinball and ping pong to baseball, basketball and football. He taught me how to take a punch - a lot of punches. (My mom says I deserved most of them. We can agree to disagree.)
My brother is still teaching me things. This week he taught me to listen to my pastor.
The past few weeks, my pastor has been teaching about miracles from John chapter 9. It's easy to think about miracles as something that used to happen. But if I didn't believe in miracles before, I would have no choice but to believe after this week.
My brother works at a school in the Oklahoma City area and he was helping change some lights in the auditorium. It's nothing he hadn't done several times before. He was on a platform that is about two-feet wide when he went to lie down to make a final adjustment.
His feet were just far enough off the platform that he fell through the ceiling and found himself hanging on by one hand about 30-40 feet off the ground.
He said he started praying immediately as he was trying to hold on. Nothing improves a person's prayer life like hanging more than 30 feet in the air by one hand. A co-worker went to get help but my brother couldn't hang on.
He fell hard and fast and landed on auditorium chairs.
I would say it was a miracle that he didn't die. The fact that he suffered broken ribs and a couple of fractures in his vertebrae is pretty solid proof that miracles still happen. Not only did he not die and not require surgery, but he was up and walking in the hospital hours after his fall and was out of the hospital one day after he was taken by ambulance from that auditorium floor to the trauma unit at OU Medical Center.
Another thing my brother taught me this week is that I need to work with my mom on her storytelling style. She almost gave me a heart attack telling me a story about my brother being hurt.
Like when Michael Scott told the staff about running over Meredith with his car on The Office, my mom told a very scary good news story.
After hitting his employee with his car in the parking lot, Michael Scott told the staff, "Ladies and gentleman, I have some bad news. Meredith was hit by a car," he said, putting the entire staff on edge. "It happened this morning in the parking lot. I took her to the hospital. And the doctors tried to save her life, they did the best they could. And she is going to be ok."
My mom told a similar story with my brother's incident. She told me about him hanging on for dear life and plummeting to the ground. My mind pictured my brother dead or paralyzed for life if he was lucky. Then she told me they thought he would be fine.
I didn't yell at my mom over the phone because she had been through a lot. But I think I may take some time at this year's Christmas dinner to teach a public relations class on how to get the most important news to the front of the story in case something like this happens again.
Of course in my family, we aren't a lovey-dovey bunch. Being tough stock may be why my brother bounced when he landed. My last sick day from work was my birthday in the year 2000. My brother even joked that he thought he might take it easy and not return to work until Monday.
The day after my brother's fall, while he was waiting to get released from the hospital, I sent this text, as a brotherly reminder to make his life better.
"Hey, try to remember today that you can't fly," I said. "You seem to land well, but you can't fly. I'm just glad you didn't land on your hard head and hurt any of the auditorium chairs."
That's brotherly love, Bush family style.
If that fall happened 1,000 times, 999 of those times would have gone far worse. You can say my brother was lucky or you can see a miracle happening right in front of you.
I'm sure he won't always feel lucky over the next few weeks as deep breaths and coughs feel like gut punches from a heavyweight fighter, but he knows he was really fortunate to not just survive this fall, but walk out of a hospital 24 hours later.
I guess he is especially lucky because only a week after Thanksgiving, he has enough to be thankful for the whole year - we all do.