Farewell, My Brother


Having a green tea at the local Starbucks, catching up. Yesterday, I had a farewell sandwich and beer with my brother, James. That’s him on the right, trying to steal my birthday present. This was my main gift when I turned 8, just what I asked for – electric baseball. A metal sheet vibrated, which propelled base-runners along a track. Very high-tech in the day.

Most appropriate for the brand new Sputnik era. The Soviets had launched their first satellite just a couple of weeks earlier.

In the bottom right hand corner, you can make out another gift – Lincoln Logs. Back in the pre-Lego era, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets were the building items of choice.

Anyway, my brother has the distinction of driving me to the emergency room twice, on a different coast each time. The first time happened in early 1999, in Connecticut, when a suicidal depression gained the upper hand. The second occurred in July last year, outside San Diego, when my heart almost stopped beating.

In late 2006, I moved to rural southern CA. Several years later, my brother followed me out. Perfect timing. We had both reached a stage in our lives when we were ready to talk about growing up under the same roof. In my place, over home cooking and beers and Neil Young, we opened up. With each telling and retelling our buried past slowly lost its strange dominion. One day, we just sat around, talking music, politics, and sports. We no longer felt compelled to talk about family.

For me, a great healing had occurred.

The sandwich was eaten, the beer drunk. Time to go. Out in the parking lot, I half-jokingly reminded him how he had followed me out to CA. That this time around, I might find a good landing spot – heaven knows where – he might want to follow me to. In the meantime, though, time to get into our separate cars, he going off in one direction, me in the other.

Till then …


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