We will gather to celebrate my brother's life this weekend. He died in late May...less than a week after turning 74. And less than three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
His wasn't always an easy life ... though you'd never know it from his ever present smile, love of laughter, and great talent as a jokester. Born a twin, he always had a ready side-kick and straight man. There was almost nothing the two brothers couldn't dream up. And very little that could stop them .... except cancer.
Contracting polio at nine years old left marks he carried throughout his life. Isolated in an iron lung in a big hospital an hour from family was a lonely and scary time for a young boy. Yet it only seemed to make him stronger.
Two failed marriages brought shame he carried about divorce. For a bit, that shame kept him in a self-imposed exile from family.
When his twin brother and soul mate died of cancer, he stepped in to fill the hole left by that loss in our family as well as in the lives of his twin's children.
Distance, both geographically, and at times emotionally from the sons he was so proud of caused him great heartache.
But ....there was this love story .....
Halfway through his adult life, he met her....and it seemed, started loving himself again because of her love. She became his straight "woman", his adoring companion, his cheerleader AND the brunt of his effervescent teasing. She cheered on his hobbies and he, hers. She loved his family and he, hers. She talked of feelings and he tried to. She gave him the dickens and he listened .... and behaved .... for awhile.
Each of them became more because of the other. Isn't that what we hope for every couple? Being secure in another's love allows that to happen, it seems.
When illness came and he knew life here on earth was short, he wanted her alone. Always a private soul who didn't much like showing vulnerability, it was in her care and her arms he felt safest.
On the evening of the day he died, she said to me, "We had quite a love story."
Indeed they did. And it was a gift to all of us.