Life Lessons From My Resilient Little Brother
I was asked to read the obituary of my little brother Chuck Browder and say a few things about him. As I pondered on what to say about him, I thought back on how resilient he was and how he lived life to the fullest. Looking over the photos that friends and family were sharing, I was reminded of his many accomplishments, his love for his family and his love of fishing.
Chuck Browder was only 36 years old at the time of his passing. Chuck was born with Osteopetrosis, an extremely rare genetic disorder that makes bones too dense and brittle. His condition caused deformity from birth, difficulty hearing and constant breaking of his bones.
I met Chuck when my dad and his mom, (Debbie), began dating when I was 14 years old and Chuck was 4 years old. We took to each other quickly and had loads of fun; Chuck was bright even at an early age. I remember him attempting to teach me to sign the alphabet and how he got frustrated that I needed a refresher each time he tried to teach me. That isn’t the only thing Chuck taught me, Chuck taught me how to be resilient. I will share a few highlights below…
Don’t Be Resentful
Chuck’s appearance caused many people to stare and be curious about his condition. Chuck’s father abandoned him saying “I didn’t have a child like that”. Chuck had countless fractures, hospitalizations, and near-death experiences during his life. He was confined to a wheelchair most of his life.
With all these challenges facing him, he remained positive. He got frustrated and disappointed at times but never stayed in that state of mind very long.
Chuck’s Mom shared with me that she felt like society and charitable organizations could have provided more support to Chuck, but I know Chuck did not want any handouts. In fact, he asked me to build a ramp for his house a few years ago and insisted he pay for it, I told him he could buy the materials, but I wanted to build the ramp for him.
Never Give Up
I never expected Chuck to have a wife and children, those were my limiting beliefs. Chuck had different plans. He married Bonnie and then had Joel age 4 ½ and Abigail age 3 both of them beautiful children that he adored. He was determined he wasn’t going to let his disability keep him from having a family and living a full life.
Chuck graduated from Bartow High School in 2004. He went on to Southeastern University and then obtained his master’s from Ashford University. He was determined and disciplined. He was a history and math teacher and taught at Bartow Middle School and a few other Academies in Central Florida. Chuck bought his own home and was excited about a place for his wife and children to live in Ruskin, FL.
I left Chuck’s funeral inspired to be more and do more. The photos of him enjoying family, friends and fishing were a testament that although his life was shorter than most, he made the most of it. I was glad to have him as my “little buddy” even after he grew up to be an accomplished husband and father.
Brian Brogen is a coach, trainer, and speaker with an emphasis on communication and team building. As a certified human behavior expert, Brian has a knack for developing teams and individuals both personally and professionally. Brian works with organizations and individuals, coaching and training using his experience, knowledge, tenacity, and sense of humor. Brian is the founding author of Voices For LeadershipTM, a collaboration of 40 diverse authors sounding their unique voice on leadership principles, and the best- selling author of The 100-Hour Pilot. You can learn more about Brian at http:// www.buildcs.net.