Two brothers grew up a few years apart. They were close for a time, but grew somewhat apart. They moved in different circles. The elder brother worked hard and achieved some recognition, even notoriety. Every so often the younger brother would see his name in the local newspaper, his photograph in a supermarket magazine.
The younger brother also worked hard. He had a decent life. He managed a comfortable home and raised a pleasant family. His name, his photograph, were never in the local paper. As happy as his life was, and as much as he loved his elder brother, there was still a part of him which winced when he saw his brother’s face on the front page of the social interest section. He could tell a tale or two, from when they were young, which would burst his bubble. Of course, he never would.
The elder brother died. At his funeral, the younger brother was astonished at the number of people who made a point to come to him and with great gratitude tell him stories about his brother, about his generosity, his encouragement, his gifts. One had received free services when he couldn’t pay; another’s child had received a generous loan as a down-payment on her first married home. Another had been driven twice-weekly by the elder brother to a medical appointment; he had always refused money for gas or any other compensation, but would take a cup of tea with the patient after the appointment, and chat for a while.
The younger brother was a little ashamed that he had not known this side of his brother. He was also a little angry.
“When did he give me anything?” he asked his wife that night.
She looked at him, a little strangely, he thought. “When did you ever ask?” she responded, quietly.