This is a tough one to begin. How does one tell the world that a part of oneself has died? That your only sibling has left you alone to carry on? On February 6 Nathan broke free from his limitations and is now bestowing his big brown eyes and smirky smile on our guardian angels.
I have a lot of things I feel I need to share about my extra-special brother (this was your first introduction to him) but I am going to start with the eulogy I wrote for his funeral. In time, you may get tired of my Nathan posts. But those of you who knew him understand how special he was.
Nathan Daniel Duerre
I’m sure Mom and Dad had plans for their son. I’ve never asked, but I’m sure they did. Maybe they hoped he would be the high school quarterback. Or a cowboy. Maybe they thought he would take over the family farm. Or earn a PhD in Animal Science. But God had his own plans. He decided Nathan would be a teacher.
From the very beginning, Nathan was teaching us. First was to accept that we don’t always know why. We don’t know why Nathan was the way he was. Heck, we don’t really even know how to explain him. He wasn’t deaf or mute. He wasn’t Downs Syndrome or Autistic. He was just Nathan. And we learned that that was enough.
Through Nathan God taught us tolerance. Growing up in a small community, Nathan interacted with kids and adults alike who learned that it was okay to be different from everyone else. And he taught us that it was okay to track mud into the house and that macaroni and cheese could hit the floor. That’s what vacuum cleaners and puppies were for!
Nathan had plenty of teachers over the years. I’d be willing to bet that he taught each one of them patience, persistence and to think outside the box! We know he manipulated as many of them as would let him. Only those who were made of steel could get past the smiles, the tease, the “I’ll only do it if I want to” attitude.
Nathan taught me generosity. I was always happy to give him my freshly opened can of pop after he took one slobbery drink from it!
He also taught me humility although I’m not sure he had a lot of his own. Our family spent many years at the North Dakota State Fair, primarily in the livestock areas. Nathan was a fixture in the barns and on the shuttle buses. When I got to college, instead of remembering who I was in my own right, several of my new friends said, “oh, you are Nathan’s sister!” Yes, I am Nathan’s sister.
Nathan taught us to enjoy the simple things. Like watching your favorite movie over and over. I’m sure that had nothing to do with Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts. He loved helping with chores, setting the table, hauling garbage. He loved carrying boxes for customers. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a slight smirk on his face. He especially loved tractor rides and trips with the horse trailer.
And we can’t forget his sense of humor. Nathan was the king of tease. He loved to steal your chair, take the last cookie off the plate or move whatever project you were working on out of your reach.
And now we have come full circle. Through Nathan God is still reminding us to accept things for what they are. We don’t know why we had to lose Nathan so soon. But Nathan taught us to be grateful for the time we had. And I am so glad I am able to say that I am Nathan’s sister.