In 1993 my brother, George, and his wife, Kathy, started a company called Dickerson Mechanical. George and Kathy were already extraordinary—and rather the opposites of Buds and me in some life choices: They were married right out of high school. They had their three children while they were still in their early 20’s. Both of them are extremely intelligent, and though they have done well at any job they pursued, neither has a college degree.
George has been a union plumber, a sanitation engineer (garbage man), a Sprint car racer, a butcher, worked in a cattle yard, and, finally, opened his own Shop: Dickerson Mechanical. And, after a trip to Italy with us, opened a restaurant, now owned by his daughter, Pamela, and her husband, Andrew: Papa Georgio’s, soon to be, Georgioz.
George, the brother closest to me in age–only 10 years older–was my only brother I ever actually lived with. The other two were already off on their own by the time I was born. In my mind, when I grew up, it would be George and me fighting Mom and Dad together, but that’s a little too much family history for this post.
For fear this sounds too much like an obituary, I’ll be clear, this is actually a tribute post. My brother is very much alive, and despite the setbacks dealt him in the last few weeks, he is doing amazingly well. Rather like another famous George, George Bailey, at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life.
George and Kathy’s business sat under 3 1/2 feet water, mixed with sewage, on the west end of a small town in Iowa. Colfax, Iowa, population 3600 or so. While Chris and I were in Boulder, I would call to get updates on how things were going. The answer was seldom positive, but despite this, George always managed to sound like everything was going to be fine.
I spent one day helping with the clean up, and I was so impressed by the grace, spirit, and strength George and Kathy showed. Many, many people came to volunteer their time. My niece from California had flown home to help. My other niece took time from her work to do dirty, back-breaking work. My nephew, who works for Dickerson Mechanical as well, was out on the job, doing the work that needed to be done.
Not only was I impressed by the number of people who wanted to help in their time of need, I was so moved by seeing their adult children choosing to be with them in this trouble. Buds and I parent the way we do because we want to have lifelong, loving relationships with our children. I got to the see the fruits of those labors for my brother and sister-in-law.
They still have much work ahead, and I know all of this has been very, very draining and stressful for them. But they’ll be okay. They decide what “okay” looks like, and they’ll be okay.
To read a Des Moines Register article highlighting the flooding in Colfax, with George quoted, click here.