Growing up in the Beaudoin household, I am quite certain my mom had just about all the testosterone she could handle with three boys and my father around.
And my sister should be practically anointed sainthood for such tolerance.
Somewhere along the line, during our youth, though, Tom, Stephen and I gained yet another brother, Tony.
My sister Ann’s longtime boyfriend turned husband has seemingly been around us for most of our memory.
And from the beginning, Tony always called us his brother.
It was a fitting title for a man that had more love to give than practically anyone I knew.
The story of Tony and Ann took many twists and turns as the months turned to years, years turned to decades. But with every passing holiday, family reunion and time of triumph and tragedy, Tony was there with a hug, a signature smile and that immediate sense of love and receiving.
Tony could talk about his salvation and savior, Jesus Christ, just as deftly as he could the Los Angeles Lakers and Kansas City Chiefs.
He loved to cook. He loved to love. And he was amazing to my sister.
Tony always called us brother.
Tony touched a lot of lives along the way. In 48 years, he had a monumental impact on the Beaudoins, for sure.
Through stressful family situations, we came together, closer, more understanding and more accepting of our diversity and range as a family unit. Tony made that journey with us over 25-plus years.
Through weddings, funerals, days of joy and times of sorrow, Tony offered words and hugs. For everyone.
The news Jan. 15 that Tony had passed away left a hole in more hearts than I could possibly count, the largest, of course, with my sister. The sun rose and set with Tony. He was a rock, a constant source of encouragement, joy, laughter and support.
In his dying, I struggle somewhat to come to peace with the past.
But if more than two decades of knowing Tony would teach me anything – and it certainly has – it’s that his love and God’s love should be first and foremost on our minds.
We make mistakes as a family and we recover together, too.
Tony has educated me on that simple fact.
He wasn’t just a brother-in-law. Tony was our brother.