I’ve had my brother on my mind a lot the last few days. I don’t know what triggered the thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I often think about him, but it’s been more frequently of late.
My brother Jeff was 2 years younger than I. Yes, was. He was 51 when he passed away, in November of 2012, so that makes it almost 3 years.
What do I remember about him the most? It is hard to say. So many memories. One of my first memories of him, skiing at Sugarloaf. He was a real hot dog on skis; way more daring than I was. We hardly ever skiied together; only when he felt sufficiently sorry for me if I had to ski alone.
I remember standing at the top of a section of a more difficult trail, almost trembling in fear. Ok, I was trembling. He stood at the bottom of the “hill,” ahem (not a hill), looking up at me and trying to talk me down. “Go back and forth,” he hollered. “You don’t have to come straight down.”
Well, of course my skis had other ideas. Straight down they went, and I ended up skiing with my back almost parallel to the slope, until indeed I fell, as I had known I would. Hence, the trembling.
He kindly walked up to where I had fallen, picking up gloves and ski poles and one boot, oh, by the way, still attached to a ski, and he didn’t even laugh.
I think that’s probably the last time he skiied with me.
We were BFFs before BFFs were cool, especially when they’re your younger brother. One time I took a photo of him when he was fooling around. He had cut out a great big eye from a magazine page, and taped it to the back of one of his eyeglass lenses, so that one eye appeared much bigger than the other. He was always a goof like that; he loved making people laugh! Later, in a book of memories I had written and illustrated, I recreated that photo; it is often in the back of my mind.
Another memory: Hanging out together in the observatory of our home here in Maine. We lived in a converted cottage situated on a suburban hill. “Observatory,” we’d say, with an English accent and an aristocratic air. Most likely, the room had originally looked out over the ocean, but as the area grew more populated, the view became more and more obscured.
Here is where I start wanting to censor myself. For one thing, “don’t air your dirty laundry” is second only to “don’t air your family’s laundry.” In fact, I’ve said too much already. Ok, delete, delete, delete. Guess I need to write more fiction, lol.
Jeff was very sensitive to my divulging personal issues. Several years ago I was writing a short series of guest columns for the local paper, and he gave me the dickens for “disclosing a family secret” that I had thought was merely an amusing anecdote. Even toward the end of his life Jeff continued to insist that that had been a major faux pas.
And so if I tell you much more, I can see that Frank Zappa-fied finger (he loved the Frank) pointing down at me from Heaven saying “you’d better not!”
Well, I will stop there and say that my brother died as the result of a couple of brain injuries that he had sustained a few years previously. Which is the short version.
I don’t think of him often. Only in the winter. Only when I hear about others’ grief and loss.
Only on days which end in “y.”
Miss you, Buddy. 🙂