I had a big brother. His name was Melvin. When I was a 2 year old toddler playing with building blocks on the floor he was 13 years old sitting at the piano running his fingers over the keyboard like a pro, playing “Stars and Stripes Forever” and many other classics. I memorized the melodies in my little mind and said to myself, “Someday I am going to play the piano!” Mel taught me to ride a bike. Training wheels were unknown in those days. He ran behind me holding me up as I weaved back and forth over the sidewalk. Then when I came to a stop at the end of the sidewalk I turned around and saw that he was half a block behind me. He had released me when I was balancing on my own. My big brother could do anything. He could kick a football higher than the telephone pole on 61st Avenue. To prove it he kicked the ball so hard it went into the sky, but he lost his balance and sat down hard on the ground and we both
I had a big brother. His name was Melvin. He was a straight A student. I came along 11 years later in the same grade school. The teachers that had taught him remembered him and made a big thing out of me. “Oh, here comes another Hiatt!” I know I disappointed them. Mel was highly disciplined. I was a “happy-go-lucky” kid. Mel was a hard act to follow.
I had a big brother. His name was Melvin. Most important of all I knew that my big brother was a genuine Christian. When I was about 10 years old, World War II came, and my brother joined the US Navy. Mom read his letters to us. They proved over and again how he maintained his Christian life while others mocked him and how God was watching over him and guiding his path. He served for a while as Chaplain's Assistant and played the organ. The US Navy put him through Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering. Then he graduated just when the war ended. I stood in the street for hours in front of our house waiting for his 1939 Buick to appear. That night Mel slept with me in my bed in the attic. I was 14 years old, I think. We talked a lot. He was concerned about my soul. He wanted to know if I was a real Christian. He asked me how I knew. I didn’t know how to explain it to him so I wept as I said, “ I just know, that’s all!” I always cried easily. Mel was all excited about a beautiful girl named Ruth Alice that he had met in Indiana. He showed me pictures and told me all about her as we laid in bed there in the attic. He was going to marry her.
I always wanted to be like Mel… to follow him as he followed Jesus. We got better acquainted years later even though our paths seldom crossed.
I still have a big brother. His name is Melvin. Last week at 91 years old he moved to his new home in heaven. Today at his church in Seattle they are celebrating his life and ministry. I am 10,000 miles away in Argentina and cannot be there. But one day very soon I’m going to get together again with Mel. I’m going to give him a big Argentine hug and we are going to have plenty of time to talk!
See you soon, Mel!