Forty years ago today. That seems like forever ago! And, yet, some days it seems like just yesterday.
It has been 40 years since my brother, Randy, died as the result of a car accident on November 7, 1980. I was 21 and he was 23. He was two weeks away from his 24th birthday. The picture above was the last picture taken of him.
I received the call from my dad at about 3 o’clock in the morning. I remember the L O N G drive back home to my parent’s house, which was five hours away. The whole way home I convinced myself it was a horrible mistake! It was someone else who had been driving his car! My brother was going to be just fine.
I’m so thankful for many memories of Randy. These memories of my brother bring such joy to my heart! I’d like to share just a few…
I remember when we were young in 1966 and walking home from the Orpheum Theater downtown Pipestone. As we walked by the old courthouse on Hiawatha Avenue in the early darkness of evening, a man popped out of the bushes, and this stranger started to chase us. Randy grabbed my hand and took off running like a deer that had been spooked. I felt like I was flying behind him. He never let go of my hand.
My brother protected me.
In October 1979, Randy was driving me back to Marshall, MN because it was an ice storm and he wanted to keep me safe. When we got to the Holland hill, there was a car on the other side of the road having troubles getting up the hill because of the ice. Randy pulled his car over to the side and got out to go help ‘push’ the car up the hill. He didn’t hesitate once to get behind that struggling vehicle. I thought if he could do it so could I, so on went my mittens, and I hopped out to go help him. Eventually, all of us pushing that car up that icy hill experienced victory.
My brother was always willing to serve others.
Another memory I have is of Randy driving us to Minneapolis to visit my dad’s side of the family in 1974. It was just him and me in his gold Chevy, windows down, hair blowing, music blasting, and my 14-year old self was feeling pretty groovy at the time. The song Taking Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO) was blaring from his cassette tape. When this verse
Take good care
Of my business
When I’m away
boomed through the speakers, I glanced over at him and caught him looking at me while singing at the top of his lungs and grinning from ear to ear because he changed the lyrics to
Take good care
Of my sister
When I’m away
…almost as if he knew I’d need taking care of later in life.
My brother loved me.
Randy was an excellent singer and guitar player. That is the one thing I miss the most about him…his musical talent. I honestly believe if he were still alive today he would be a well-known country singer; even though he loved rock and roll (shh…don’t tell him I said that). 😉
Or, maybe, just maybe he would be a Christian singer. Do you know who Zach Williams is? The guy who sings Chain Breaker and There Was Jesus? Click on the links to give him a listen.
That is who my brother sounded like when he sang (kinda looked like him too). My brother would have made a fabulous Christian singer.
Now…he sings with the angels in heaven.
Losing a loved one is painful. A bible verse that brought some comfort to me after losing my brother was Isaiah 57:1. I know in my heart the Lord rescued Randy from something evil in this world, and for that I am thankful!
If you are struggling with grief right now, I pray you find a bible verse(s), possibly a book or two, and someone (God would be the perfect some One) who is a good listener to help you find healing. A book that may bring you comfort is No More Faking Fine: Ending the Pretending by Esther Fleece (2017). Esther wrote this book to “give you permission to grieve, to ask questions, to hurt—and to do so without apology” (p. 18). “All of us need lament. All of us long to be rescued from pain” (p. 19). My friend and colleague, Kandy Noles-Stevens, wrote a book called The Redbird Sings the Song of Hope which is a beautiful tender expression of what grieving people wish others knew. I highly recommend both books.
May I ask you a huge favor? Please love your siblings! If you are estranged with any, please find reconciliation and forgiveness in your hearts! Please love your family. Our days are numbered and we never know how long we will have our family around. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.
In joyful memory of my only sibling, Randy Lane Wussow, the lucky guy who got to give Jesus a real hug 40 years ago today. I can only imagine what that was like.
Love you, Bro!!! Keep strumming. Keep singing. I know I will see you again someday! Until then, I am thankful for my fond memories of you.
Stay Calm & Love Your Siblings!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.
Fleece, E. (2017). No more faking fine: Ending the pretending. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.
Noles-Stevens, K. (2016). Redbird sings the song of hope. Westbow Press.