Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tribute to A Brother

It is never a good sign to come out of a deep sleep wondering 'what is that noise' and realize the telephone is ringing. Glancing at the clock I see those bright yellow numbers show the time as 4:03 a.m. I reach for my cell phone which always lies next to where I sleep. I pick it up to see if that is where the sound is coming from. Yes! It shows my brother Chuck's name emblazoned in the glowing light. I swiftly wonder if he has accidentally called me again. (He has done that, but never in the middle of the night). My next thought swiftly hits upon 'uh oh, this cannot be good.'

I thought quickly about not answering. Then I wouldn't have to hear the bad news on the other end. The only reason to call a sibling in the middle of the night is for bad news. I quickly said hello and then heard my world shatter just as quickly.


"Fred has died"

Fred is my middle brother. He is a twin to my only sister. He has always been in my life. He and my sister are two years older than me. Chuck is the oldest. And baby brother, Rich, is the baby (even at almost 64 he is still my baby brother). I hear myself shout out, "no". It can't be true.

"Fred has died"

Chuck tells me my sister, Claudia, has been trying to reach me. She lives in a town about 40 miles away. Fred lives across town. And Chuck is in Louisiana. Rich lives in the country not far from us. Fred's wife got up during the night and found my brother sitting up in his recliner. She thought he was asleep. His chin rested on his chest. His arms were folded across his chest. She suddenly has "that feeling" that something is not right. She reaches out to shake him awake. He doesn't wake up. He is gone! He is gone?

"Fred has died"

As I drove across town in the middle of the night, a town that was sleeping, I remembered my brother. The brother who liked to play practical jokes on us when we were growing up. He used to hang by his feet from the roof of our house and peer in the window. Creepy!! But he loved to scare us. I remembered the time he put a bar of soap under his t-shirt and stabbed himself with a knife. Complete with ketchup for blood. I remembered when he hid in the bushes on Halloween and snatched our treat bags out of our hands as we walked by. He thought he was funny.

While we were waiting for a red light to turn green I had a flashback to the time we pushed his car about a block away from the house so we could sneak out with his girlfriend and my boyfriend. And when we came home and all the lights in the house were on. I knew that once again I would find all the lights on when I arrived across town at his house.

We had not spoken much to each other in the past few years. Silly disagreements about things that wouldn't matter at all today. But still I knew that I would miss this brother more than anything. He spent hours talking with Richard about gardening. About whether Big Boy tomatoes or Heirlooms were better. About when to till and whether to lay down hay or mulch. How much to water the cucumbers. He was always there when I needed advice about the car or the house. Or how to trim a tree limb that was hanging too low.

I remembered missing him when he left for the Army. And praying for him when he trudged through the jungles of Viet Nam. I recall how my mom would always know when he was in heavy battles. She would just know and be awake at night worrying about him. And then when a letter would arrive saying he was 'okay' how we were all okay too. Will it ever be okay again?

As I pulled my car onto his street and saw all the lights on and all the cars there I knew it was true.

"Fred has died"

Fred with his great-grandson



54 comments:

  1. I am so sorry for your loss, Paula.

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  2. Oh Paula, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to all of you.

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  3. Oh Paula, I am so sorry for your family's loss. He sounded like a good man. Always shocking to get news like this. Again, I'm so sorry.

    betty

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    1. It was shocking, Betty! I thank you for your kind words.

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  4. I am so sorry for your loss. I do not keep a phone here I can hear it during the night. I'm a chicken when it comes to bad news and as you said, what else can it be in the middle of the night. May you find comfort with your family.

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    1. Bad news will come to us no matter where our phone is! Thank you Denise!

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  5. Damn I miss him. Not answering the phone when needed gets you a visit for the police or sheriff so we just as well leave the phone plugged in and near us as we sleep. News isn't gone to be better because we won't answer Love all the siblings. Won't be there for the services, but planning a trip up the first of the month

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    1. I miss him too. Look forward to seeing you next month!

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  6. I'm so sorry. Take care of yourself during this terrible time.

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  7. Oh Paula, I am so sorry. It hurts hard to lose a sibling. I wish you God's peace and will keep you and your family in my prayers.

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  8. Oh friend. This, your first-person account, is so powerful. I don't know how any reader can't come away unaffected. I'm sure Fred's wife deeply appreciated you making that pre-dawn drive across town. So vulnerable, all. I'm so very sorry.

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  9. God bless and comfort you, may he carry you through the days ahead.

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  10. Hi Paula - so sorry to read this news re your brother, Fred ... my thoughts to you all - with hugs - Hilary

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  11. A beautiful tribute to your brother. I am so very sorry for your loss. May he rest in peace.

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  12. I'm so sorry for your loss, Paula. I have 3 brothers that I am close to and losing one of them would be hard. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  13. So sorry for the loss of your brother, Paula. Prayers and hugs across the miles.

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  14. Oh Paula!! I dont even know what to say except i am so sorry and i'm sending prayers and hugs. And your writing is beautiful.

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  15. I'm so sorry to hear that your brother has passed away. May you find comfort in your family, and may the good times you've had together with him be in your mind. Sending hugs and lots of prayers.

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  16. Yes - phone ringing when it's "out of hours" is a worry for us now our parents are of an age - once upon a time you knew it would just be a wrong number. This was a true tribute to your brother and I am very sorry for your loss - my thoughts are with you at this sad time. Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

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  17. May God's peace surround you and your family, Paula.

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  18. So very sorry to hear about your brother Fred. I loved reading your memories about him. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family.

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    1. Thank you Vicki! We have so many good memories!

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  19. Sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your brother Fred. Enjoyed the post about the memories of him.

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  20. Oh I'm so sorry for your loss. You have some wonderful memories, and I pray they sustain you in the days to come. Thinking of you, and adding you to my prayers.

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  21. Sending you tons of hugs Paula.... I enjoyed reading about the silly things your brother used to do. Cherish all of those memories... You loved him and he loved you.... that is a given - no matter what happened "in between"... Brothers and sisters argue and spat - but in the end - you were blood...

    Linda in VA

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  22. My sympathy. I am sad for you, but happy that Fred died in his own home in his own chair and avoided the nursing home or a prolonged illness :)

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    1. Yes, that is truly a blessing. Thank you FSOF!

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  23. Paula, I am so so sorry to hear about your brother Fred. Oh those dreaded phone calls in the middle of the night. Your tribute was beautiful. I loved reading about him and the memories that will keep him alive. I pray for you that the tears will give way to smiles as the memories of him shower you with joy as you re-live the times you all shared.

    I haven't been around lately as I've taken a blogging break for a bit but came out of the shadows to make the rounds and visit a few friends. I'm glad that I choose today to do that. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. The strength of family will surely help heal the sorrow. With much sympathy,

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Thank you so much Michele. I have missed you!

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  24. Oh, that is hard! So sorry for your loss. A sudden, unexpected death is such a shock... and in the middle of the night! Glad you have some wonderful memories to comfort you. Hugs.

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  25. Oh Paula, I am so sorry that you have this loss so soon after your husband:( Hang on to those happy memories - they help make you the strong woman you so obviously are. X

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  26. This is so sad, and such a sweet tribute to your brother. My Aunt Mary found her husband had passed on the same way.

    Fred sounds a lot like my late father-in-law, loving to play pranks on people. I couldn't help but smile reading your brother's antics and thinking of things my FIL did to his siblings and they did to him, with their mother's assistance in some cases.

    That is a sweet photo of your brother with the baby. Very sweet. You're all in my prayers. {{{Hugs}}}

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