“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” – Psalm 133:1
“There’s something I’ve been saving I want you to have,” he said. Knowing in advance it was something special, my dearest life-long friend, Steve, then handed me an old one-dollar bill with my grandfather’s signature scribbled across the front. Found, he explained, while clearing out his parents’ safe deposit box after they had passed away, he felt I should have it. There must have been some sort of bet, we both surmised, between Steve’s father, John Chenault, and my grandfather, Eunice Wilson. My grandfather obviously lost the bet and probably signed his name on the dollar bill to ensure receiving credit for paying his debt.
John and my grandfather had a special bond. Though they seldom saw each other, for my grandfather lived in another town, they never missed an opportunity to visit – or more accurately, to bicker. Both being crusty, opinionated and argumentative – one a staunch Republican, the other never voted for anyone but a Democrat – their conversations were mostly battles of debate and wit. Yet, each one held the other in the highest regard, plus both men at that point in time served as the patriarchs of their respective families.
Though we lived across the street, our relationship with the Chenault family was much deeper than that of ordinary neighbors. Steve and his sisters, Carol and Nona, were like brother and sisters to me – and remain so today. The two families shared, cared, nurtured, and supported each other through the most joyful as well as the most painful experiences and emotions of life, and our parents served as intimate confidants, confessors, and counselors to each other.
So, it wasn’t so strange, really, that in the safekeeping of a bank vault among the most sacred family documents that John had placed a dollar bill bearing my grandfather’s signature. For just as currency by definition is a covenant between the issuer and the bearer, so that dollar bill exchanged between two great patriarchs represented a sacred covenant between our families – one that has endured for decades. Framed and prominently displayed in my home, that dollar bill is ever a reminder of that bond. “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Such has been the deep, binding, enduring, and committed relationship between our two families.