“Friend to Friend: My Brother Gary,” Friend, June 2006, 8–9
My older brother Gary is a cowboy at heart. Even as a child, he enjoyed rodeos and western movies and always had a horse, which he could saddle and bridle and ride. We lived on a dairy farm near Huntsville, Utah, and Gary did chores alongside the rest of us. Each morning he got up early and fed the cows while I did the milking. He helped with the backbreaking work of haying, and the sweaty, itchy work of threshing. We had a little tractor he learned to drive, and he used it to take hay to the cows. He loved animals and just naturally understood their needs. We worked hard and ate well and slept soundly.
We had a lot of fun together too. We raced horses and played cowboys. We went swimming in the nearby river and reservoir. Sometimes we rode our horses up into the canyon and camped out. Gary loved his family and the delicious food our mother cooked. He especially enjoyed going to church. After he grew up, he always took his lesson manual, though he couldn’t read very well. He finds great joy in the simple things of life—animals, nature, close relatives, and close friends.
My brother Gary is a special person. When he was born, his brain was damaged by a lack of oxygen, and his mind never grew above the level of a six- or seven-year-old. For over 60 years I watched my parents take care of Gary—helping him brush his teeth, comb his hair, and tie his tie on Sunday. They took him to rodeos and western movies and performed countless acts of love and kindness.
Unfortunately, people aren’t always so nice to those who are different. I’m sorry to say that some children were unkind to Gary. They shut him out of their games, called him ugly names, and teased him unmercifully. One time when he was eating an ice-cream cone, another child guided him over to a dog and let it lick the ice cream. Everyone laughed when Gary went back to licking the cone himself.
Gary was a childlike person who turned the other cheek and was quick to forgive. He loved and accepted everybody. I think that aside from my parents, this special brother did more during my childhood to shape my outlook on life than anyone else. I grew up knowing that we should love those who are different and help them reach their potential. Because of Gary, I feel no prejudice toward anyone. I learned that I must not judge people, that I should assume that they are doing the best they know how, and that if they are going to do any better it will be because we understand and help them. I can’t even judge those who tormented him. They just didn’t understand.
We are all God’s children, but we are all very different. We come with different talents and abilities. Heavenly Father expects us to make allowances for each other and to be kind. In Primary we sing, “If you don’t walk as most people do, some people walk away from you, but I won’t!”*
If you meet someone who is obviously different, please treat him or her as you’d like to be treated yourself. It hurts to be excluded just because your skin isn’t a certain color or you don’t play ball well, or you don’t wear the right kind of clothes or comb your hair a certain way—or whatever. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love everyone, so let’s do the same and be nice to each other. That’s what I learned from my brother Gary.