August 5, 2008 it hit me . . . three years ago, this day was the last time I saw my brother.
I had asked him to come to Illinois. Mom had been sick that summer; we almost lost her. She was out of the hospital, but still not well enough for me to feel good about leaving them for a long planned-for eight day Alaska Cruise with long-time friends. And I was exhausted.
I had talked to Gordon about possibly coming to visit them so I could go, but he said it was his mother-in-law’s Mother’s Eightieth Birthday Celebration that weekend. A short time later, he called me back, telling me he was coming. He said Carol (yes, he married a Carol) felt it was important for him to come. Sometimes as I think of her generosity, I wonder if I would have done the same thing had the tables been turned. Maybe I was still somewhat in denial about how serious it really had been.
I do know this. While it was important for him, I often think if was more important for us – not for the weekend but for what was going to happen. How grateful I am for her generosity.
While he was here, he and Dad went to St. Louis Cardinal Baseball game, something they had not done since Dad took us to our first big league baseball game as children.. Being an avid, life-long Cardinal Baseball Team fan, it was particularly fun for him to take Gordon again. None of us knew it would be their last Father/Son adventure.
The next day, I drove Gordon back to Chicago to catch his flight back home. He went via Great Falls which necessitated a late night drive home so he could get the good airfare. What follows are my “snapshot” memories of that last day with my only remaining brother.
This visit . . . such grace . . . little did we know
* * *
So clearly I remember this day
Taking a photo of Mom, Dad and Gordon
“in case he doesn’t see her again,”
he thinks and I think.
A quick stop on the way out of town
for a steaming cup of coffee
Ahh, a traveling companion who gets it
the importance a good cup of coffee for the road.
A surly, Goth-looking, pierced clerk waits on us.
He sees the sign on the way in.
“People with smiles wanted – now hiring.”
Chuckling on the way out he says:
“She could be reason for the sign.”
He doesn’t miss a beat
always finding a reason for
that infectious grin of his –
always finding a way to make us smile.
A stop 1/2 way there –
How does he remember this truck stop?
He doesn’t travel this way often!
But Gordon always knows where he is.
Gordon doesn’t get lost – ever!
Gordon is like the original
A run to the airport to drop him off.
I know we hugged and kissed goodbye.
We always do.
“Bye! C’ya” he probably said.
He always did.
I just wish I could
“Be careful” I say,
“Don’t fall asleep on that lonely road
so late at night.”
They’d never find him
until it was too late,
I’ll be OK he says.”
I smile to myself.
He’s always OK!
How was I to know?
two months and twenty seven days later
in an early November snowstorm
on a hunting trip
he would get lost,
fall asleep on a lonely road
and wake up in heaven because
they wouldn’t find him
until it was too late.
Three years have now passed.
He found his way “home.”
He really is “OK”
just like he said!
Andhe’s probably smiling still!
If I could tell him goodbye
just one more time,
we would exchange a quick
hug and kiss.
He’d say ”
“Bye – C’ya.
And this time I would remember
Next time we meet
he’ll say “Hi.”
We all will.
and never again will he say
(To read about the story surrounding those “Days of Loss” CLICK HERE)