The Beauty of a Brother’s Skills

Before: a patio needing to be replaced!


Having planned to be away to be with her sister for a week, my wife suggested that I might invite one of my brothers to visit during this time. Greg lives in the far Northwest on Puget Sound, and is an adept self-taught home landscaper as well as builder. The opportunity for a visit coincided with an opportunity to address a need. We have a patio that has become compromised by tree roots as well as a lack of a durable foundation.

Attracted by the beauty of a new patio, but daunted by the prospect of achieving it, I wondered. But Greg not only came for a good visit, he brought his cement finishing tools with him. Ok – game on! If you have been fortunate to have one or more siblings like I have, you may appreciate how wonderful it is to have someone with whom you have grown up be a continuing part of your journey toward wholeness.

This week I would like to share with you the beauty of my own experience of having a sibling who is more skilled at doing some things that I only imagine, and wish I could do myself. Yes, sibling relationships may sometimes be complicated. But there are certain treasures to be found in those relationships that friendships with others can fall short of discerning or attaining.

The former patio flagstones and pea gravel removed

What I marvel at is my brother’s ability to conceive of the broad parameters of a project, from the initial stage outward to the desired result. A couple of outings to nearby large-box hardware and supply stores provided me/us with needed tools, materials, and a slight boost in confidence (for me). We all want dream results, while most of us don’t really want to pay for them!

But the real boost in confidence came with the next step. A good friend of one of my sons recommended a vendor for varieties of landscape stone. This was somewhat unexpected in our part of south Louisiana, where all the soil that exists is essentially alluvial, and where no natural or native stone is generally found. Here, we live upon the deposit of thousands if not millions of years of transposed and deposited soils from Montana (via the Missouri), Minnesota (via the Mississippi), the states between them, along to the rivers’ combined outlet in the Gulf of Mexico, just south of us. And so, we found these attractive paving stones (below) in the discount area of a local vendor, where large pallets of multi-sized pavers had been picked through, and where – perhaps- enough leftover pieces for our smaller project might be found. They were!

Some of the new ‘pavers’ adjacent to the removed flagstone

Having priced the general market for such stones, we had found a deal. But beyond that welcome result, I find myself most grateful for my brother’s discernment about which blocks on the ‘discount’ pallets were worth obtaining, and those which might not meet our expectations for final appearance quality.

The project continues despite frequent and heavy Louisiana summer rains!

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