When my mother and I left the hospital a few days after I was born, my name was Mark. Upon arriving to our home where seven children already dwelled, my oldest brother Tom – 5 years old at the time – said, “Look! It’s little Timmy!” That was all it took for my mother to make the name change; Tom has called me Timmy ever since.
As God-fearing people, we always understood that initial connection between Tom and I to mean something much more than coincidence or happenstance – perhaps we knew each other and “hung out” before this mortal journey. It sure seemed that way from an early age. Although Tom was five years older than me, we were best friends, almost inseparable. Tom was happy to let me tag-along and play sports with him and his friends. During the fall and winter months in Utah, Tom and I had the habit of stripping the leather off of our basketballs, leaving the black, rubber mass in order to promote better grip. We would play endless games of one-on-one, around the world, H-O-R-S-E, speed, poison, or dunk-ball. During the summer, we would spend hour upon hour playing one-on-one baseball inside the apartment tennis courts (“baseball” is not a typo; all you need is a pitcher, batter, and a little imagination).
As we grew up, we were each other’s biggest fan. Tom supported all of my endeavors, attended all of my games, and eventually gave the toast at my wedding. He’s inspired me with his love, humor, strength, confidence, and faith.
One month ago, Tom was diagnosed with stage four melanoma. Before that, as my younger brother Dan said, “Tom’s only care in the world was his golf swing.” The news hit us all like a ton of bricks. How could Tom, the male pillar of our family, be going through this? How did this happen? Of course, true to Tom’s character, he has been the voice of comfort and reason for all of us during the past month. His perspective through this is awe-inspiring. Now, just as Tom rooted for me as I played basketball, I am in his corner, rooting for him as he fights for something much bigger.
This experience has taught me that life is full of its twists and turns; life is no “respector of persons.” Meaning, nobody is exempt from life's trials and tribulations; things can change in the blind of an eye. Or, to use a quote from The Count of Monte Cristo, “You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next.…” It has also reminded me of the importance of
In terms of priorities, I completely understand the mindset of individuals and families that delay in setting up their estate plan:
“It can wait.”
“I’m not ready to tackle such a morbid topic.”
“I’m too busy.”
“I don’t think I can afford it right now.”
While these are all valid concerns, I have found that those individuals and families that make estate planning a priority develop a sense of peace and security in knowing that, if something happens, their loved ones will be okay.
I’m forever grateful to my brother Tom. Mark is a strong name, but Timmy rings true!