Friday, May 24, 2013

Camp Shepherd - Part 2

Having grown up with my brother, Erik, has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. Watching him grow into a well-rounded adult has taught me much about myself, about others, and about my children.

Sometimes, though, I forget that Erik is a whole person. He does need to be told what to do, reminded to shave and brush his teeth.  Erik does talk to strangers for longer than he should, and sometimes has to be strongly encouraged to leave them alone. He loves to look at iphones, almost cannot stop himself from touching them.  It does feel like parenting, and I have to keep my kids in check that they do not boss Uncle Erik around.
Dad, Erik, and Ella the dog

As I remind the kids that Uncle is a 32 year old man, I also remind myself of that fact.

While Erik does accept his lot in life, that does not mean he does not have dreams.  I clearly remember the day I discovered that Erik fully realized some of his losses. We were at a swimming pool, and my two girls were very little. He and I were taking turns passing the baby, Laurel, back and forth in the water. It was June, and we were talking about what to get our Dad and Lee for Father's Day.

Erik asked me a question that took my breath away.  "I won't ever get a Father's Day present?"

I had no idea that he even thought about those things, I wrongly assumed that he just understood that he would always be cared for. Erik's simple question pointed to the fact that he had thoughts of his future, of his identity in this world. 

The best lesson I have learned from Erik, is that just because someone requires extra care, it does not mean that they are less of a person.

Recognizing that Erik has depth, that he has desires that he cannot verbalize, that he is spiritual (he really loves Jesus) is a catalyst for me recognizing that all people have much more going on than meets the eye. Erik accepts that he cannot drive, that he cannot cook if he is home alone, and that he will always need someone to take care of him, but he doesn't always like it. My brother, just like the rest of us, desires a place in this world. He desires that his life has meaning and purpose.

Erik inspires me when he comes to stay at Camp Shepherd, because all of his meaning and purpose come from serving others. He happily mows, vacuums, unloads the dishwasher - all very simple tasks. I have learned though, that just because the task is simple, does not mean that the doer is simple. Erik is a complicated person of depth, but he interacts with the world in simple ways.

Isn't it just like God to use his simplest servants for such huge tasks?

Erik hanging with the nephews and niece.


  1. of COURSE he's in a RUSH shirt :) love you all. inspiring post as always :)

  2. Oh yes! This is so beautiful and inspiring.

  3. Kara, thank you so much for seeing Erik as he is and, then, how he wants to be. When he was twenty, graduating from high school, and planning his future, he told me that he wanted to marry Amy (his one true love), get an apartment, and have children. I had to ask the tough questions about jobs, money, cooking, shopping, caring for children, and so on. I find it odd that you have written this now, because, every year, when high school graduation is going on, I think about the disappointment that I caused him. He was truly sad about this, and still is. A special “Thank You” to you and your family for taking him into your family in such a loving way.

  4. Your message is so inspirational, Kara. Your family is very lucky to have you! Beautiful!