Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Brother Chris

To all of you who have expressed your love to me and my clan, I thank you.

I just wrote a few words to say tonight at the service celebrating the life of my brother Chris. Yes it's an addendum to the BS policies, names of deceased relatives can be used, the living have been omitted. We have an Irish wake and service for him tonight, and commit his ashes to the ground in the morning. He will be buried with the remains of my brother Bob, beside my Dad.


My brother was a warrior, he fought battles with the world, and within himself. His struggles the stuff of epic tales.

My favorite story of the warrior, involves me, of course. I was about twelve and my moped got stolen. Yes I had a moped, hey I was twelve, it was cool, trust me. Thinking back on it, I’m shocked my mom actually let me have one. One day mine disappeared from near our house in the South End. The details elude me, I do know I was devastated. Through some reconnaissance and spy work Chris and my brother Bob found out who pinched my wheels. How they extracted the information or who it even was I don’t remember. I do remember sitting in Chris’s car waiting in this unfortunate fellows neighborhood. Me in the backseat, excited and nervous, worried if I was going to get my ride back, wondering what would actually happen if this kid did happen by. Chris and Bob in the front seat discussing strategy.

Right on cue we heard the distinct sound of my moped coming up the street, she had a manly two stroke purr to her. Bob and Chris were like super heroes in action. Out of the car in a flash as the culprit turned the corner driving my hard earned ride. They yanked him off the moped in an orchestrated attack that would make Batman proud. Bob holding the moped. Chris grabbing this poor schmuck. Boy had he stolen the wrong kid’s bike. Chris picked this fellow up, threw him onto the hood of the car and slapped him around. A few smacks from his meat hooks, a couple of whacks of his head against the hood. “Don’t ever mess with my little brother again” was the message. The actual words elude me, the actual words probably a bit to colorful for this gathering. I sat in the backseat, eyes wide, full of joy and full of pride. These two were my heroes. I had my moped back and the rest of the older thugs in the South End knew, mess with me, and you’d have to deal with my warrior brother Chris. Word traveled fast, I was blessed that my warrior brother had my back, so I was the untouchable by the older hoodlums.

He took that warrior mentality through a lot of his life. His armor - his tattoos and his intimidating size. You could see his big heart underneath his armor, he would provide glimpses of his heart and a smile. Never more so than when he talked of his son. He loved him so much. He was proud of him. That love and pride evident, the warrior was a big softie at heart. And his heart cried when talking of our brother Bob. When Bob died a piece of Chris died with him. His best friend was gone, taken from him far too young. Years later, when my Dad died, his heart broke. He had had enough. Soon after he suffered a stroke, his will had been broken. His brothers in arms were dead, he was the last man standing.

I visited Chris a few weeks ago with my mom. I was shocked to see him. His armor had been removed. My armor had been removed, mine being sarcasm and an acid tongue, not so much intimidation. I really saw him clearly for the first time. Saw him for the beautiful soul he was, doing the very best he could with his life. Disease had taken his conscious thought, yet I had never seen his eyes sparkle more clearly. He called me Bob several times. And when I asked him if he was having fun he told me he always loved spending time with Mom and Dad, Dad being Me.

I realized I was a stand in for his two best friends. He then told me he was ready to leave, he wanted to go home. And home he has gone. I know he is with his best friends now, Dad and Bob. Probably doing a little fishing. Checking out the beautiful ladies as they stroll by. Having a laugh. And smiling, knowing that his son has turned out to be a caring courageous young man. He is proud of you, and he loved you so. This I know.

In closing, It’s said that the biggest souls get the biggest challenges. My Mom is the biggest soul I know. Her love has seen our clan through some challenging times these past eight years. No parent should outlive their child. My mom has outlived two sons. Mom I love you. You are an inspiration, a lesson for me in perseverance and the power of love. A shining example, a beacon of light in these foggy times.

Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. a huge thank you to you and shawn for speaking at the service. i want both of you to speak at my memorial service - 50 plus years from now. ok? i love you.