He’s My Brother


Peter and me on my 19th birthday (1985)


The road is long
With a many a winding turns
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

The Hollies’ He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother never failed to tug at my heartstrings. Many times when the burdens of life weighed me down, I wished I had a brother who would carry me through those arduous patches. A recognizable voice, a firm pat on the back and a knowing concerned look would have been more than enough to soothe a troubled mind. Knowing that one has a sibling who will always be there come rain or shine is like living in a house with a foundation so strong that no storm can blow it down. That should be a concerting feeling indeed.

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

Beyond doubt, I was a burden to those who had to care for me. Without the goodness of all the people around us who had so kindly lent a helping whenever we needed one, Mum would have had a difficult time looking after me. How many of us would expect our mothers to nurse us when they are already into their sixties and seventies? Mum never complained. Still, there were some activities that were beyond Mum. And most of the time, Mum would call on her nephew Peter for assistance. Mum was the eldest and Peter’s father was the second in a family of five siblings. Every Saturday, for years, he would diligently ferry me to physiotherapy and helped me with the exercises. Peter never complained, too.

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

Before I was strong enough to transfer myself to and from the wheelchair, Peter would gingerly carry me into and out of the car. That is why whenever I hear this song there would be tenderness deep in my heart. Try carrying a 180cm and 65kg paralysed body with limbs flopping all over and you can begin to see the burden that he had partaken. That was despite having two bad knees that he suffered in an accident that involved his superbike crashing and then sliding under a speeding truck. It was a miracle that he came out of that alive. Now he still takes me everywhere whenever I asked him. Everyday I pray that he will be blessed for all the goodness that he had so selflessly showered on me. Thank you cousin. Truly, you are the brother I never had.

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Minion to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. Columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

8 thoughts on “He’s My Brother”

  1. With cousin like that, who needs brothers! 🙂 BTW, just out of curiousity, how come you’re both Peter? Is there a story behind that?

  2. James,
    We have a few Peters in the extended family. I do not think there is any special story behind it. Maybe our parents liked that name?

  3. your cousin, peter, must be godsent. 🙂
    he is indeed a rare gem. i admire him for all his help to you.

    i like the song ‘he ain’t heavy, he is my brother’ very much. used to sing it a lot during my school days. very lovely meaningful song. another song that i like (at about the same time of ‘he ain’t heavy…) is glen campbell’s ‘try a little kindness’ (or is it john denver’s?). it is also a meaningful song with lovely lyrics.

  4. Lucia,
    God is always helping us in unseen ways. I am beginning to “see” some of them and telling the whole world about it… the wonders of blogging! I have totally forgotten about this Glenn Campbell song. Used to sing it while playing the guitar during outings in my teenage years. Thanks for bringing back some memories of those good old days.

    Cherry,
    I am so blessed. We have angels, saviours and samaritans who come along and help us whenever there is a need but a lot of times we do not realise it. I am sure there are a lot of others who have made an impact on my life that I have yet to mention. In time I will. These people deserve mention and credit for their kindness, even though they never expected anything in return.

  5. A great blog here in appreciation of people who care. Perfect match of the lyrics and circumstances. Great song in my teens!!

  6. A song well written will remind us of many things. A heart deeply touched will remain forever grateful. Thank you TK for the compliments.

  7. i am looking for ways to help my brother, whose name is peter too. thank you for a starter, thats the song.

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