“Bye! C’Ya!”

Bye Cya

August,  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 8 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 Carol’s Mother’s 80th Birthday Celebration that weekend.  A short time later, he called me back, telling me he was coming. He said Carol just 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.

8 05 mom and dad and gordon

“Oh, and a picture of the two of us,
but I’ll see you again,”
he thinks and I think.
forget it...sepia takes care of it! 1

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
Lassie-come-home man!

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 think.
I’ll be OK he says.”
I smile to myself.
He’s always OK!

How was I to know?
2 months and 27 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!
And he’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.”
I will.
We all will.
and never again  will he say
“Bye!  C’ya



(To read about the story surrounding those “Days of Loss” CLICK HERE)

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  12. Carolyn, thank you for sharing about Gordon. Such a bittersweet story, SO well told. Your celebration of the hope and joy of heaven warms the heart and inspires glorious anticipation!

  13. I can imagine how fresh your grief feels each time you write, read, & share this story. I can also imagine how tangible the feeling of love for your brother and then the very present love for all of your loved ones. “Thank you Jesus,the author of this love–eternal & glorious.”

    Thank you for allowing us to enter into a little piece of your story.

    1. Grief and joy – it took me a long time to be able to feel both together. It’s like I got used to grief. I knew what to do withhit. Joy, not so much. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Carol, these posts touch me deep and tender. I’m sad with you , for this ache of a void that can’t be filled entirely. For the loneliness of it. And I honor him with you; what a delightful brother, infectious with life! I want to say thank you for your willingness to speak about what many of us fear, with courage, honesty and hope. Sending you love as you remember and grieve.

    1. thank you Amber for coming here. I find that it means a lot for people to take the time to remember him with me, even those who do not know him.

      No one in my daily life here ever knew him besides my husband and my kids. Writing this post and sharing it in person with a group of friends in a small group last week really seemed to help me through this time…much more than if i had just kept it to myself I think.


  15. Carol, I love it….You remember his spirit, and write about it well. I love the picture of the hat, but the picture of the people tell the real story!

  16. Carol

    I think of you and Gordon so often when I am with Joanne and saying goodbye…I never fail to take a second to savor the moment. You are a wonderful story teller and thank you for sharing. My prayers to you…..

  17. With all of ones losses there is that precious “hindsight” of the last encounter. Thank you fir sharing so beautifully.

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