When I was a child, my father taught us (I have two siblings) that family loyalty was the most important trait there is. He was the youngest of four brothers and he idolized his older brothers.
Growing up, I never tired of hearing stories about how my dad's brothers were wonderful athletes, how well they did in school, how popular they were, how many offices they held and so on and so forth.
My dad has been dead for 18 years so it is impossible for me to ask him when he stopped--idolizing them, that is. What I do know is that he and his eldest brother were the only ones to attend college.
After college, my uncle moved to North Carolina, married someone outside of his family's faith, and rarely returned home. It wasn't because of my grandparents' attitude toward his wife; they were very accepting. All these years later, I wonder why my uncle abandoned his family.
My dad's second oldest brother was captured in World War II and may have been a hero but wasn't very successful once he left the service. He was unemployed for many years during the great Depression. His never seemed to find his path after that although he worked steadily in low prestige jobs, remained married to the same woman, and had three children.
I don't know very much about my dad's third oldest brother. After he died, I heard some unpleasantries about him from my cousin--his son. I don't know why my dad once admired this brother although I do know that Dad loved him.
One of my father's favorite books was My Glorious Brothers by Howard Fast, which is the story of the Maccabees. I won't bore you with the history but the short version is that they were a priestly family of Jews in the 2nd Century B.C. who organized a successful rebellion against Antiochus IV Epiphanes in Palestine and reconsecrated the defiled Temple of Jerusalem. They are responsible for Hanukkah but that's another story.
It wasn't the history that made my father love this book, however. To me (and to him), it was the most amazing story of brotherly love. While John was the oldest brother, and Simon was next, Judas was the kind of brother everyone admired...strong, brave, loyal, fearless, and courageous. In Fast's novel, the other brothers are Eleazor (who is known for his strength) and Jonathan (who is known for his brilliance).
(to be continued)