By: Michele Brown
If you knew my brother, I’ve no doubt he made a lasting impression. He had that effect on people. You knew a man who was kind, compassionate, smart, talented, and funny. He was the type of person you never forgot. He was humble, selfless and was a shining example of a servant leader.
If you knew my brother, you knew that he loved God above all else and spent his life serving the Lord. He was dedicated to his church and was the music minister for over 25 years. He also was a deacon and a Sunday school teacher and never missed an opportunity to help others learn about Jesus. He lived his life according to God’s word and his faith never wavered, not even for a moment.
If you knew my brother, you knew he also loved his family. He honored his father and his mother and was the best big brother a girl could ever have. When our dad passed away suddenly in 2011, my brother moved in with our mother the next day to help care for her as she had been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and required around-the-clock assistance. He sacrificed so much but he never complained. He was with her every day, lovingly attending to her every need until she passed away in 2014.
If you knew my brother, you knew he was one of the hardest working men around. He owned and operated the family nursery and landscape business and worked tirelessly. No matter how many hours the job might require, he never sidestepped other responsibilities with his church, his home, and his family. And it never mattered how tired he might be if someone called him and needed his help, he did so without hesitation.
If you knew my brother, you knew he loved music. He was blessed with a beautiful voice and a natural gift for singing. But his love of music extended beyond just singing and he learned to play trombone, eventually becoming a member of the Marching 100 at the University of Kentucky while he was a student there. He wanted others to love music as much as he did and during his years as the music minister at his church, he convinced a little country choir that they were good enough to learn and perform Handel’s The Messiah. He also spent many years as a member of the Lexington Singers which afforded him the opportunity to perform with the group when they traveled abroad.
If you knew my brother, you knew he was a man who was slow to anger and chose his words carefully. He was generous to a fault, often giving to others even when doing so meant he had to do without. He offered grace and forgiveness freely even to those who were not kind to him. He firmly believed in treating others as he wished to be treated even when that was not reciprocated.
If you knew my brother, you knew he appreciated the beauty of nature. A gifted landscape architect, he was the principal designer and builder of Yuko-en on the Elkhorn, the official Kentucky-Japan Friendship Garden in Georgetown, Kentucky. He spent countless hours learning the rules of designing a Japanese stroll garden and applied them to this magnificent project. Besides numerous commercial projects, he also did residential landscaping as well and received rave reviews from his clients. He understood the beauty of nature that God created and while he couldn’t replicate it, he gave it his best shot.
If you knew my brother, you knew he appreciated the simple things in life. He didn’t need anything fancy to be happy. He enjoyed taking scenic drives, long hikes, and watching sunsets. Taking the dogs for a walk on the back of his farm was another simple pleasure that gave him joy. And music. Always music. Whether it was listening to a favorite CD or going to hear a gospel choir sing or perhaps just sitting at home and strumming his guitar, music always took him to his happy place.
If you knew my brother, you would understand why I spent so much of my life trying to be like him. To have his patience, his faith, and his wisdom was an almost impossible goal, but I tried. Most of all, I wanted him to be proud of me as I was of him. Perhaps it was because of my endless pursuit to be like him that I almost missed the fact that he already was proud of me. That fact came to light when he was first hospitalized in early January. I had stopped by to visit him for a while before I headed to Rupp Arena to cover the Texas A&M game for Cameron Mills Radio. A nurse came into the room to change his IV bag and while she was getting all the tubes switched over, he asked her if she was a UK fan, to which she replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!” He then said, “I want you to meet my sister. She gets to sit with the media and cover the games for Cameron Mills.” The pride in his voice as he said those words washed over me and filled me with such happiness. I realized then that it wasn’t so much what I was doing as it was the fact that I was living out my dream and he was proud I had pursued it.
If you knew my brother, then you can understand why his death less than 2 months after receiving his cancer diagnosis totally rocked my world. You would know how very much I miss him and how the void he left can never be filled. You would know that when he received his diagnosis, it was his desire to face his disease with grace and dignity, never questioning why it happened to him. You would know he believed it with all of his heart when he said, “God has a purpose.”
If you knew my brother, then you would know how fitting it was that we donated his corneas after his death. Two young men had their vision restored because of that gift and my brother would have been honored that he was able to provide that for them. You would also find it appropriate that my brother’s favorite hymn of all time was “Be Thou My Vision.”
If you didn’t know my brother, then I hope after reading these words you’ve grown to know him just a little and that you can understand why I say the world was a much more beautiful place with him in it. Most of all, I hope after learning about him that you would say, “I really wish I had known your brother.”
In Loving Memory of
Jeffrey Lee Singer
April 7, 1958 – March 6, 2018