My mother reminds me that I'm the "most stable in our family." I've always been counted on to do the right thing. When my father was depressed after my step-mom had died of cancer in her fifties, I took it upon myself (with full support from my wife) to invite my dad to move in with us. We bought a house together. When the Rocket Scientist and I moved out west for my doctoral studies, we rented the main floor of the house, permitting my dad to live virtually for free. When he got sick, with cancer, we moved back into the house, to keep him better company, and help take care of him. Then we went overseas. I had been granted an extension to my Fulbright, but chose to forego it, since my dad's health had in the interim taken a decided turn for the worse. We moved him up from the garden-level basement to live on the main floor with us. I am convinced that my interventions kept him alive several months longer than he would have mustered without us.
It's not that I'm entirely altruistic. It's not that I didn't complain, and add my share of grief to the mix. It's simply that I did the right thing. Years ago, I learned a simple lesson. One father's day, just after my grandmother had died, I decided to call up my grandfather, to let him know I was thinking of him. I spent perhaps three minutes on the phone with him, but to him it meant the world. I learned that often we make a small effort that has a great impact on others' lives. I established a rule to live by: if it's easier for me to do someone a favor, than it is for them to do without, then it's done.
It's normally an easy motto to put into practice. Only rarely is it difficult to decide.
Today, in the middle of writing my last post about a nibble at Big West Private, I got a call from Oldest Brother. He was laid off from his job. He's broke. He can't afford his rent, and it's going up $200/month at the top of the year, when his lease comes up for renewal. He wants to come down this weekend with Nephew to spend part of Hannukah with us, and... he wanted to know if he might be able to move in with us for a while, until he gets back on his feet. He thinks he can help out with the rent. He should be able to get back on disability, or certainly unemployment. Give him a chance to reduce his expenses, save some money, get out of bankruptcy.
I've talked it over with the Rocket Scientist. There really is no saying no. He's family. I love him. The question is one of logistics. How, where, when, how long. Maybe something else will come through. Maybe he'll come up with another solution. But... he wouldn't have asked, if he didn't feel at the end of his rope. That I know. Wish us all luck in getting through this trial.