Wednesday, August 16, 2017

a year of loss

Unfortunately, I have yet another sad blog post to write.

It's been a year of loss for me.  Since October I've lost three cats, my father, and now my brother, Chuck.

My brother was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer last November. At that time he was given three to six months to live if he didn't do any treatment. Nine to 24 months with treatment.  Chemo was initially successful in slowing the spread and growth of the cancer; however, the side effects were rough. He then switched to a different treatment, which, unfortunately, was not successful and the cancer spread and grew quickly.  Although he underwent treatment, he ultimately lost his battle this past week. He was 60.

Towards the end, I mailed my brother a card to let him know I'm thinking of him and to share with him the life lessons he taught me:
  • "Don't get caught!" Anyone who knows him and his past will understand this one without another word.
  • "The Walking Dead is an awesome show!" It's not about zombies, but survival and rebuilding after most human life is wiped out by disease.
  • "Top 40 music sucks!" When I was growing up he would ask me what kind of music I was into at the time and when I would say Madonna or something similar, he would tell me Top 40 music sucks and that I should be listening to bands like Metallica. It took me awhile, but I got there. I now appreciate bands like Five Finger Death Punch and Iron Maiden.
  • "Get off the couch and LIVE!" This is the biggest and most important one. During the last nine months it dawned on me that he's done more living in the past 13 years than I have in my entire life. While I was sitting on my ass on the couch watching TV, he was kayaking. While I was playing around on the computer, he was travelling.

(BTW, I challenge you to find a card that is suitable for this type of thing (terminal cancer) and doesn't imply or state outright that everything will be OK; it wasn't easy. I finally found one, but it wasn't what I really wanted.)

I'm very thankful that he found a woman, Barbara (above), who loved him for who he was. Through her, he experienced many new things, gained six stepchildren, and 14 grandchildren. He traveled to Alaska, Maine, and Wisconsin, all places he had never been before. He also learned to take great pictures, as his wife is an avid photographer. They would have been married 10 years next month.

So, what can I say about my brother? Given the large age gap and other factors, we didn't grow up together; however, I know he was the kind of person that welcomed everyone with open arms. It didn't matter who you were, you were welcome.  He was opinionated and had no filter most of the time. He told it like it was, whether you liked it or not. Although it could be cringe-worthy at times, I really admired that about him. He was always open to trying new things.  I never thought I'd see him kayaking or developing a love for bird watching (he can name many of them on sight)!  Also, he loved kids and animals, and they were absolutely drawn to him. We always joked that he was a kid, chick, and animal magnet.  He also loved fireworks, especially firecrackers--he was a big kid at heart. We gave him a big sendoff the night of his memorial service with a fireworks display (they're legal in his state).

Through the years he fed my love for reading. Whenever I wanted to read something new, he would recommend books or authors, which I then promptly devoured in short time. Authors such as:  Ken Follett, David Baldacci, Stephen King, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child, among others. I'm going to miss getting my book recommendations, but every time I read a book I'll think of him.

With that, I say farewell to my big brother. You're now with mom and dad again.  Although your time and our time together was much too short, I love you, I'll miss you, and I'm glad I got to know you.

Here he is with my dad, cruising the Connecticut River in Vermont/New Hampshire on my parents' boat, about 12 years ago.


  1. Sounds like he was a wonderful man. Prayers

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. :(