Many years ago, when our children were young, my sister and I took them to Stanley Park for the day. We did the usual things enjoying the sunshine and the playground. Every year a Little Theater group provided entertainment in the park, at the end of the day. This particular year, the group was performing, “Annie Get Your Gun” .

I don’t remember much about the story or the performance, except for one part. Someone says something to Annie about her brother being too heavy for her to carry or look after. As I remember it, he was in a wagon which Annie was pulling. Her answer has stayed with me, “He’s not heavy, he’s my brother.”

I think of my brother, Orval, who has been very lonely, crying out to God for help, not knowing what to do to relieve the loneliness, the emptiness of life. His marriage ended in divorce many years ago and his only daughter stopped calling or seeing him because she was angry with him and she no longer took any of her children to see him. So, he felt unloved and uncared for by them.

Before our mother died, she and Orv talked on the phone every day. After Mom passed away, I began calling him every day and he expressed how much it meant to him. He had a few friends that he kept in touch with, but as time went on most of them went on with their lives and forgot him or they passed away.

As it happened, in May of this year, I went to Edmonton to be with my daughter who was gravely ill,. In fact the Doctors had almost given up hope that she would live. Many people were praying for her and today she is a living miracle. In July, I was still helping my daughter and I tried to phone Orv as often as I could to keep in touch.

One week-end I talked to him on Saturday and when I called him on Monday he did not answer. Instead I got an old message which meant his phone was not working properly. The phone company said his phone was off the hook. On Tuesday when I called and got the same message, I knew something was wrong, so I called my sister. She was not well so she phoned her daughter, who went to check it out.

When Corrine and her daughter got to Orv’s house, he did not answer the door. Looking through the mail slot they could see him lying on the landing near the door. He had fallen down the stairs. A neighbor who had come to help, called 911 which brought the Emergency people in full force. They took him to the hospital by Ambulance. A CT scan showed that he had a stroke, and also that he had other strokes before this one.

On July 19, i left my daughter in the care of others and flew to Vancouver where my sister picked me up. Since then we have been at the hospital mainly at meal times because at first he could not feed himself. Recently he has moved from the hospital to a Rehab facility where he can receive therapy and exercise to regain his strength. and mobility. On the surface he seems OK but he is quite confused and has lost his ability to remember even routine things. He tires easily.

I was three years old when my brother was born. Two years later, our dad went overseas with the Canadian Army to fight in WW2 and we didn’t see him for five years. My sister, Eleanor was born six weeks before he went overseas. Mom was left with three children to raise. Her parents lived in the same town so they were a help to us.

.img008the three of us

When dad came home from the war, he was an alcoholic and he was not a good example to Orv of what a man should be. 

Because Orv was big for his age and overweight he was bullied at school. The town dentist’s son, Bobby had a gang and they threatened Orv. One time I happened to see the gang after my brother and I saw red. I was tall and long legged and I ran over there, grabbed Bobby, who was half my size, and threw him on the ground. For some reason the other boys left.

The milk man with his horse drawn wagon was always more interesting to Orv than school so he would skip school often and help deliver milk. Mom didn’t know he was doing that because he always came home when school was out but one day she met the teacher downtown and the teacher asked why Orv was not in school.

He liked whittling on a stick and would do that for hours.Orval whittling in watroue 10 yrs old

He loved music and he learned to play the guitar. Sometimes we would invite some of the young people home after church and we would play our instruments and sing. We enjoyed the food and fellowship

He was never without work and although he tried his hand at many things, one of his favorite jobs was working as a detective. This picture was taken when he was working as a detective. He was about thirty years old.

detective Olsen 30 yrs old

His longest job was with Loomis Armoured Cars. He drove for them, delivering and picking up money in the province of BC for thirty five years before he retired.

Orv and his Loomis truck.

He loved to travel and went to Norway several times.

Orv in norway

His favorite hobby was gardening, mainly flowers although he did plant other things in containers.

Orv's house and garden

Orv's garden 1Orv's garden 2

He was married when he was young and for a few years it seemed to work. When his daughter was born he was overjoyed.


He didn’t know much about being a husband or a father. Eventually the marriage failed. His relationship with his daughter needs work.

So, we have come back to the present time. He has a long way to go still. They have backed off on exercise because he has a lot of pain due to arthritis. When I got there after lunch, he was sitting in his wheelchair in the hall, looking for his room. He was relieved to see me. I wanted to get his hair cut so we went down to the second floor to find the hairdresser.  After that adventure he was ready for his nap.

It bothers him that he can’t remember. I don’t know what that feels like but we are going through this together. My sister and I are trying to bring some kind of normalcy into his life. He’s not heavy, He’s our brother! We are strengthened by the Lord for each new task!

orv, mom, eleanor, janna


He’s Not Heavy; He’s My Brother!

3 thoughts on “He’s Not Heavy; He’s My Brother!

  1. Pingback: sklapsky.caMom's away »

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