“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Monday, October 18, 2010

Remembering Brad

A dear friend of mine, Brad Winden died this week. I knew Brad for probably 15 years. He was one of those people in your life that you can be honest with. We had the kind of relationship where we could be truthful with each other, get angry with each other but in the end still love each other.

For example, he asked me to be his payee for Social Security, but then fired me because he didn't like the way I constrained him in his spending habits. All the while, we were friends. He trusted me to the point of being the decision for medical interventions for him, which was not a small deal because Brad experienced many medical problems across his life. I recall the last time he was in the hospital he signaled to me vigorously that he did not want to be on a respirator even though it would be temporary and he would recover. I pleaded with him to leave it in but he insisted on having it removed. Ultimately the machine was turned off and as I stood there with him, he would stop breathing unless I would jostle him. Ultimately, he acquiesced to allowing the respirator to be used and 24 hours later he was able to breathe on his own and no longer needed it.

Brad was a strong willed man who told you what he thought which is one of the reasons I liked him so much. He was the proverbial "straight shooter." His honesty was refreshing.

He was also an amazing servant. He liked to wash my car, probably because living on a dirt road, it was gratifying to see it clean. But he and I had an ongoing joke about the warranty on his wash job. I wanted 6 weeks which of course was impossible, but made for lots of joking and accusations back and forth.

He and I also referred to each other as turkey. He is the only person in my life that I have ever called a turkey and ever will. He would answer the phone "Gobble Gobble" as would I and we could call each other turkey across a crowded sanctuary using sign language.

The love of his life was Lisa and I will not go into detail about the incredible ways that he served her, but let me just say that few men would love and serve their wives in the way that Brad served Lisa. It was very difficult for him when she passed away and he and I would often talk about their reuniting in heaven.

His last evening here on Earth I was with him. He would at times come to classes that I was teaching and share his experiences with my students so they would have a greater understanding of life with a disability. He would always have a profound impact on the students. I asked him if he would like to speak to the students the Sunday before. He looked a bit down and I thought it might cheer him up to meet some new people and have a meal out. That same Sunday, the members of Light and Power gathered around him and prayed for him because he seemed a bit down. At the Wednesday night class, he was a bit tired, but enjoyed the students and they him. He seemed envigorated. After class, we stopped at Starbucks on the way home; he got a hot chocolate. We drove up to his apartment, and although a bit shakey, he used a walker in recent days because he had become a bit unsteady, I assisted him up the steps and into his apartment. I remember I was a bit surprised at the difficulty he had in climbing those 3 steps to get up to the front door. I thanked him for speaking to the students and told him I would see him possibly on Friday when we were planning to have coffee/lunch with Mark. He said he would call me. My last words to him, perhaps the last words he heard on earth, were, "God bless you!"

I will forever be indebted to Brad for his friendship.

I will also be indebted to him for what he taught me about being a person living with disability, fighting human services for services, and being a man of faith who lived with joy in the midst of great physical suffering and medical intervention. He didn't sit me down and say, "Jeff let me teach you about these things." But he taught me nonetheless through his life. I know that he had this effect on many others as well.

He will be missed.



deenuhz said...

thanks for sharing this beautiful story of your life and relationship with Brad. I am touched and honored to have caught a glimpse of the intimacy.
God Bless You Jeff McNair. I hope I can continue learn from YOU about how to relate to others with disabilities.

Mark said...

Dance with Lisa, Brad.

Anonymous said...

Sincere sympathy on your loss, McNair. I hope you are comforted by the thought that Brad and his wife are together again. Barbara

Jen said...

Thank you for sharing your story about Brad! I know it can be difficult to share the loss of someone who impacted and touched your life in so many ways. At the same time, I know that he is no longer suffering and is reunited with his wife, which makes the grieving process more bearable. It is a testament to the willingness and the dedication you have for those you are called to love and adore. I have been working with individuals with disabilities for 7 years now and I know exactly what you mean about Brad’s honesty and the honesty you experienced through your relationship. There is nothing like the rawness that they have and the truth they speak. I especially enjoyed Brad’s desire to teach and share his experiences in his life. He seemed to be a true teacher and have such an impact on those around him. I am so thankful that God does not find anyone on this earth indispensable and gives us the unique opportunity to learn and grow from all of his children. I am looking forward to the way in which God will use me in this area, not only as a teacher but also as a friend.

Jeff McNair said...

To meet Brad a bit, see the video below, Dislife Brad.

Anonymous said...

Having met Brad, I know that he is a loving man. I was in that last group of students to meet with him on Wednesday night. I saw the pain that he was in, yet he was still willing to spend his evening with a bunch of college students he had never met before. His determination for enlightening students about disabilities was encouraging. The part of meeting him that I remember the most was his love of I Love Lucy. We talked about the show for about five minutes, and that entire time, he was laughing and we were all remembering episodes that were the funniest to us. I knew that Brad was a big part of your life, Jeff, but reading your post brought tears to my eyes. Knowing that he had been in pain for the earlier part of the week makes me even more grateful that he chose to come talk to us that night. Thanks, Brad, for sharing your life with us. <3

Anonymous said...

I met Brad that Wednesday night. I was one of the lucky who got to be with him on his last night. I am glad that I got the opportunity to meet him and to help make his last night enjoyable. I remember when he first walked into the classroom because I thought that he looked weak and in pain. Once Dr. McNair explained the things that Brad had been through and experienced in his life, I felt immediate compassion. Here was a man that had been through so much more than me and had infinitely more compassion and love for life than I can only hope to portray.
Like Dr. McNair says, Brad had a love for God that could be easily seen just from meeting him. Even though I only met him that one night, talking to him showed me how much faith helped him get through the touch experiences he had in his life. I remember Dr. McNair telling us the story about how Brad had to have a breathing tube for a short period of time and that he was so strong willed that he did not want to have it. I found this story funny because it was something that I would do too. I tend to be strong willed and would exhibit such behavior like this too! Anyways, I just found that his strong will encouraging. When he was talking with us, I could tell he was in so much pain. He was in so much pain that he had tears coming out of his eyes. I was so concerned and I just wanted him to be okay. I know his strong will to persevere and his great faith helped him get through that night, blessing all of us with his presence.
Even though I only knew Brad one night, he greatly impacted me and I know that he made an impact on the rest of my peers in my class. =)

Joy4evermore said...

Wow! I wish I could have had the opportunity to get to know Brad more! Thank you for sharing. It is nice to know that He was loved not only by The Father but friends and family. I was there that prior Sunday morning before he died. I was blessed to have seen and met brad that Sunday at Church for the first and last time. It was interesting but I am grateful that The LORD led me to Light and Power that Sunday. I had occasionally seen brad at church and around town and was curious to know more about him, since he attended the same church. That Sunday was my chance to see and get acquainted with him and others. I do remember praying with him and for him. He seemed really sick. Then the next thing I heard was he had died. I have wondered about that divine moment that God allowed me to be there in prayer with him. And though I was excited to get to know him and others that day I know he was called for a greater purpose to be with his Father. May his legacy live on!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart felt thoughts about Brad. I didn't really spend that much time with him as he was sick for a while when I started to intern for Light and Power...but in the short time that I did have with him it became obvious to me that everyone loved him and enjoyed spending time with him. That is the feeling that you get when in fellowship with those who participate in Light and Power..you become a family and I know that all of us are anticipating seeing him again.