Less than two weeks from the anniversary of my mother’s death, I got a call late one afternoon from the Oregon police that they had done a welfare check (at his x-wife’s request) of my brother and found him deceased, relaxed back in his recliner with a non-lit cigarette in his hand. About three weeks earlier he had just turned 67.
My brother led a very convoluted lifestyle; on the one hand he was a lifetime heavy smoker, drug-taker, long haired biker. He never took care of himself. However, in his way, he tried to take care of my mother after my father passed, living on her property free of charge but overseeing that things were done for her. Our entire lifetime had been contentious and rarely had we gotten along; we were as different as night and day. I never understood how someone so “out there” could be part of our hard-working, moral family. There certainly was no love loss.
That changed just a little as we were forced to come together last year to get all the necessities done for our mother in putting her to rest and disposing of her estate. I remember him hugging me goodbye as we left Bend, in his leather jacket, laughing and saying “Well, we made it through, Sis; my friends were making bets we’d kill each other!” For that short few weeks, we had worked pretty well together given our past history.
When he bought a fixer upper out of the proceeds of her estate, he tried hard to bring it up to snuff. He replaced all the flooring, did interior and exterior painting, installed new appliances and even hung pictures on the walls. From all accounts, he was very proud—this was his first time owning real estate.
I bent over backward during the past year to respond to him when he reached out for comfort, advice and the final closing of the bank accounts after all mom’s bills had been paid. We had seemed to come to an uneasy understanding that we both suffered from her loss and maybe that alone would be the tie that binds into our future going forward. Not really love, nor hate, kind of a netherworld of knowing we’d likely never see one another again but still having that vestige of shared common parenthood and childhood memories that bound us together till death.
His death came as a shock, but then again, given his lifestyle, not really. It does come as a great hardship for Marc and I however, as there is no one else to step to the plate to handle all that needs done. So, we wrapped up our wonderful summer early up north, just as lumber and trusses were due to be dropped for the garage build, and Marc hightailed it to Oregon.
I won’t go into the minutia of detail here; it’s been pretty overwhelming, the worst of which is that my brother sat dead in his chair for probably likely over a week. The house reeks of death and much of it may have to be redone; certainly the painting; maybe the flooring. Marc figures he’ll have to make another trip out at some point, but in the meantime the important part of cremating his body, getting the death certificate so we can open probate, etc. is being done.
That’s all I’m going to say; I’m back with the cats in Waupaca and Marc hopefully can return within a week to ten days. Since we didn’t have the rest of the season to finish our storage buildings up north, he will need to haul the RV back here where a friend lets us store it under cover for winter and he’ll also need to tow the pontoon boat here so we can get it shrink wrapped for winter. The entire timing of our project has been set back by months.
As in so many other times in life, ya got me again, Brother…
It’s all just so sad. A chapter closed permanently on what might have been. If you can, rest in peace John.Happier times; dad’s 87th birthday in 2009. I didn’t have a more recent photo of John that was better for this remembrance page.