Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tanner (:

So, this post isn't mission related,  but I was thinking about this last night and for some reason I really feel like I need to post this on here.

Tanner was at my senior prom! What a fun night!
For those of you who don't know me in real life, or those of you who I will meet on my mission this is my brother, Tanner. 

I try really hard to live my life without regrets. I've learned from the mistakes that I've made and most of the things that I've learned from those mistakes are the most important. But there is one big regret that I have in my life.

From the time I was about ten, until I was 15 or 16, Tanner and I didn't get along. I remember wishing he would just go away, I kind of wanted my parents to decide he'd be better off at boarding school or something. 

We fought a lot, and push come to shove, most of the fights were my fault. I was very easily annoyed, and being a 7-13 year old boy, and a bit of a tease, he played off of it. The typical fight went like this, he'd be tapping his foot, or making a weird noise, or something equally stupid, I'd get annoyed (pretty quickly) and ask him (actually demand that he) to stop. He'd continue and I'd tell him to stop again, he wouldn't, then I'd yell at him and probably call him a name, he'd get mad, then we'd be screaming at each other. We weren't fighting all of the time, I have some really good memories of hanging out with each other at  that age, but we did fight a lot.

Things got a little bit better when I was 14, that year was my first youth conference (a 3-4 day summer activity for youth ages 14-18, usually overnight), and that year we were going on Trek. 

Trek is a youth conference activity, not all stakes do it, but if they do they usually do it every four years. For trek the youth, and youth leaders re-enact a small portion of the Martin and Willie Handcart companies journey, we were lucky enough to go to a place in Wyoming called Martin's Cove. This was one the toughest parts of their journey, they were in this portion of Wyoming in October and many of the saints died of exposure or starvation. 

I was really excited about trek, I knew it was going to be a lot of fun, I was very interested in the pioneers, 
and I knew I would learn a lot, I just didn't know how much it was going to change me.

On the second day we went up to Rock Creek Hollow. This was a possibly the toughest part of the saints' journey in 1856, they had to climb Rocky Ridge, but they were extremely low on resources, the temperatures were very low, their shoes were either falling apart or they didn't have them anymore, many were very sick and a lot of the men had already died, leaving the women and children to pull the handcarts. The saints' knew this portion was going to be difficult, many of them didn't reach the campsite until well after midnight, it took the whole company 27 hours to travel the fifteen miles from their previous campsite to the hollow, many of the saints simply didn't make it.

We were so happy to be in the hollow when we reached it, it had been tough for us, and we were well fed and not freezing to death. It was July, so it was very hot, and, to be honest, most of us weren't used to that hard work, the hand carts were kind of heavy. I can't imagine what it must have been like for the saints. Ours were well built and well maintained, no broken wheels or axles, plus ours were pretty much empty, we had our water bottles, a few small snacks and a 5 gallon water jug, they had all their possessions. It was such a relief to reach our destination, it was shady and cool, and there were plenty of places to sit and relax.

While we were there, the leaders told us stories about different saints, and their night on the Rocky Ridge, one story in particular still stands out to me.

James Kirkwood was an 11 year old boy from Glasgow, Scotland, he was making the journey to Utah with his mother, and three brothers, one of which was crippled and had to be pulled in the handcart. James' primary job on their trek was to watch out for his 4 year old brother, Joseph, while his mother and older brother pulled the handcart. The day the saints tackled Rocky Ridge was snowy and cold. James and Joseph fell behind, geting separated from their family. The brothers walked side by side until little Joseph got to tired and weak to walk. James realized that Joseph wouldn't be able to make it if he was walking. James picked up his little brother and carried him the rest of the way. It was very cold and James was hungry, but he didn't put his brother down. The boys' mother kept the small fire going as she waited for her two youngest sons. When they arrived, well after midnight, After James found his mother, and ensured that his brother was safe, he laid down, and died from exhaustion and exposure. James willingly sacrificed his life for his brother. It was one of the most incredible acts of love I had ever heard of in my life.

 At first the story caught my attention because James was the same age that Tanner was at the time, then as the story unfolded, I started to wonder, would Tanner do this for me? Would I do this for him? The answer, to both of these questions, was a strong, instant, undoubting yes. I realized that I did love my brother, and not just because he was my brother and I was supposed to love him. It's sad to me that I didn't always know this, and that I had to hear such a tragic story, and imagine such heartbreaking circumstances to realize this.

I tell this story a lot, maybe more than I should, I really tell it pretty much anytime the topic of Trek gets brought up. But I think part of the reason I tell it so often is so that I don't forget what I learned. It has been such an important lesson for me, my mom has said that she really did notice a difference in how I treated my brother before I had this experience, and how I treated him after.

Now, don't think that everything changed overnight, we still fought, we still didn't get along all of the time, I still allowed him annoy me, instead of just ignoring the silly things he did, and it would be a while before I would tell people that he was my friend, as well as my brother. I still had a lot of maturing to do. But I did let it show that I cared about him more frequently, and I actually tried to let things go.

*insert the maniacal laughter of a 2 year old here*
Tanner loves to make people laugh, and he is good at it. Sometimes, late at night, he'll take out his guitar and just make up songs, it's always hilarious and usually ends up being about Pippin (our dog) and cheese, we're not really sure why cheese is brought into the mix.

Tanner loves music, he always has, he plays guitar, synth and he has just started playing the bass guitar. He is pretty much always listening to music, and doesn't see the point of being in the car if there is no music playing.

Were we cute or what?

Tanner also loves cars. He is currently planning on going into the automotive industry to be a mechanic. We should have guessed that he would end up doing something with cars though, he loved Hot Wheels when he was little and was regularly seen with one in each hand. He's learned a lot about cars and mechanics in the past two years and I've been amazed at how quickly and easily he gained this knowledge. It seems as though it is second nature to him. He uses this knowledge to help friends with car problems and teach others how to maintain their cars, and how to take care of simple problems themselves.
Our 'selfie' at my graduation.
Tanner knows what it means to be a friend, he is loyal and dependable and you can always count on him to drop everything and be there when you need him. This is one of the many reasons I'm grateful to have him in my family.

After I graduated high school I went to Snow College, it was only about 2 ½ hours from home so I came home on the weekends pretty regularly. Whenever I came home Tanner would ask me if I wanted to go on a drive, sometimes I'd go reluctantly, but I'd go. I'm glad I did, just a weekend at home isn't very long and there were some weekends that going on a drive was the only time we got to spend alone with one another. I always had fun. We would listen to music and talk. When he started upgrading his car The Neon he would tell me what he was doing or what he was planning on doing. I'd try to understand and sound interested, but it just went over my head most of the time.

Playing 'pooh sticks' at Yellowstone
It took me 14 years to realize how awesome Tanner is, and another 2 years to let it change me and our relationship. Even though it took a while, I'm just glad that it did happen. Tanner is one of my best friends. It think it's good to be friends with the members of your family! You are going to be with these people for time and all eternity! Why not spend that time with friends!

Family can be tough, especially siblings, sometimes it feels like you're fighting for your parents attention, and you just can't win. But I know that if you try to let the little things go, and focus on the good, you'll realize that your sibling isn't a trial, they're a blessing. They've seen you at your best, and at your worst, they've probably been the receiving end of your worst. But they still care about you, and root for you. Heavenly Father knows you better than anyone else, he knows them too, he knows exactly what each of you need, and that's why he put you together. Siblings are our first friends and playmates, together we learn and grow and try to figure out this big scary world.

He gave me a Harry Potter snuggie for Christmas!
He still knows just the right way to push my buttons, and sometimes he takes advantage of that, but that doesn't change that fact that I'm grateful for Tanner. He's one of the best people I know. Through his example I've become a better person, I'm less judgmental, a little more patient (although, I'm still working on that one). I've learned what a good friend looks like, and he showed me that if you're happy, what other people think about you shouldn't matter. He knows me in a way that only a brother could. He's seen all the different versions of me that I've tried on over the years. We've been through some of the same trials. He's there when I'm at my happiest, he's been there when my heart has been broken. We played together, got into mischief, and then got into trouble together. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of playing Spy Kids with him, he  makes me laugh harder than anyone else I know, and our drives together are memories that I will always cherish. Tanner is truly one of my best friends and I am so blessed to be able to call him my brother.

1 comment:

  1. You know I just keep reading this and I think it is so perfectly worded!