“Family time was always important. When we were kids, Mom and Dad made sure we were there for dinner every night.” “We had our T-shirts on.”  Wait, you had family T-shirts?  “No, you had to wear *a* shirt. Any shirt. That was a rule. And no hats.”
  How would y’all describe each other? Let’s start with the oldest…  “He’s creative, outgoing.” “Social butterfly. Like he’s running for mayor.” “That was Mom’s goal for the day: How many people could she connect with from different walks of life…” “She  would run into a random stranger and say, “How are YOU?” and they were  taken aback by how sincere she is. I think you’re like her.”
  What about this guy?  “That’s easy: The Artist. He was always naturally gifted as a kid.” “Always drawing in church instead of listening…” “He  is the most free spirit of us all. Completely goes with the flow. Loves  being in nature. Likes to travel. Hates plans. Has a deep connection  with music—cosmic music.” “He’s written his own story. Hasn’t  followed a formula. I mean, how many 9 to 5 jobs have you had? Not that  it’s a bad thing, but you figured out a way to make a living that’s not  in a cubicle.”
  And the baby brother?  “He’s a good balance of fun/funny but also a hard worker. He’s focused and determined.” “He’s a performer.” “Mom’s  Dad, who we called Popeye, was the type of guy who could tell the same  story 20 times and everyone would always laugh, you know? You kinda  inherited that same thing.” “That’s an honor, thank you.”
 “I definitely think of him as the gift. When I think about his path compared to mine….the headache and heartache that I caused our parents. He was the golden child. When I was getting into trouble…he was  fishing with buddies and winning basketball championships. He was smooth sailing and getting school paid for along the way. I think Mom and Dad loved us all, but I think they thought you could do no wrong. Did you ever do anything wrong?”
  What’s the best thing about having brothers?  “Support.”  What does support mean to you?  “Supporting my art, my life. Being there for me. Having someone to talk to.”  Do you call them a lot?  “I wouldn’t say a lot.” “It’s more about being there in person.”
  Do you argue now as adults?  “One of the things I’ve been grinching about is our family place on the Llano River. Dad has always been the caretaker of that property, and he’s not as available to do that any more.” “It’s not really arguing, but figuring out who can take care of what with our mom’s situation. Trying to balance that out with family and jobs.” “With Mom’s ALS—she’s more than 2 years into  it—she can’t eat, she can’t talk, she can’t swallow. She has a feeding tube. At this point she requires someone else to feed her. The role reversal happened really quickly, and it’s been a challenge lately. Dad has been her caretaker…he’s never been good at asking for help.” “But there’s a sense of camaraderie when you go through something like this together.” “All this adversity in the family has brought us together. It forced us to work together. It’s a good thing. It’s what needs to happen. Mom and Dad were very focused on bringing us together for holidays and experiences over the years. That was Mom’s vision with the Llano property… a neutral ground where we can come together and bond, doing things that we love.”
 Do y’all think about when your parents are gone and how you will stay connected? “I’ve never thought about that much.” “I’ve thought about it a lot. Mom has always made it fun to be together. And  she’s a draw. It will be really different when it’s just Dad. Probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from her disease is that it’s given me the gift of presence…and being OK with just being here.” “There are worse places to be…” “Yes. And she’s big on traditions. There are lots of traditions we can keep when she’s gone.” “One of my favorite traditions is when it’s someone’s birthday, Mom  encouraged everyone to go around the table and say what you love about  that person. Every one of my friends who has been a part of it has claimed it later as one of their own traditions. It’s such a great way to show your gratitude and love and appreciation.”
 “Having brothers is a very primal sense of connection and just an extension of me and our family and love. It makes me feel connected to  something bigger than I am. Something that’s immediate and tangible and  physical.” “I’m grateful that we’re all here together. We obviously didn’t plan or see this coming…where Mom and Dad are at, healthwise. We all love to travel…and we certainly have dreams and ambitions about living in other parts of the world, but right now it feels like being here together with family is the right thing. The right place to be. I’m grateful that we can be here.”
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