Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Brother

I'm sitting here thinking of my brother. He died Friday and he was only 52 years old. Cancer. My father told me he blames himself because he has the cancer gene. My father is a cancer survivor. He had colon cancer back in 1971. I told my father not to blame himself, he was not responsible for my brother getting colon cancer. Just because we have certain genes in us does not mean we purposely pass them on to our children. No one ever plans to pass it along.

My brother was born 1 year and 4 months after me. My mother told me there was never any jealousy. I loved my baby brother. This is a photo of us. Joey was 7 months, I was 23 months. At least, that is what is written on the back of the photo. Oh, weren't we just the cutest babies!

After going thru my photo albums I realized there are not very many pictures of my brother. My mother has them all. This is a school picture, taken in 1964. That would make Joey about 7 or 8 years old. I love to look at the old photos, at how neat everyone dressed back then. See his hair? How nicely it is combed?

Joey was a good son to my mother. He was a good brother to me. There is a story my mother used to tell, about Joey and me going to school together. We used to hold hands. When we got to the hallway where we would separate and go to our own classrooms, we would give each other a kiss on the cheek. Well, that stopped the day a teacher made a remark to our mother about it. Joey got embarrassed because up until then he did not realize anyone saw us.

This next photo was taken, I think, around 1972. We were living in Japan at that time, at Grant Heights. This was while Joey was in his bedroom playing his guitar.

I remember once he gave me a ring with my birthstone. He bought it for me because he thought I would like it. Which, of course, I did. I still have that ring.
My mother was telling me about when we were in high school. Joey's friend would stop by to walk to school with him. Joey would leave the house, then run back as if he forgot something. It was to give Mom a hug and kiss. He did not want his friend to see it, but he would not disappoint Mom by not saying good-bye to her.

I left home in 1973, then when my parents and brothers left Japan in 1974, Joey went his own way. He and his girlfriend, Carol, married. They met while we were in Japan.

It was hard to believe my brother was a husband, then a father. After watching him grow up, he was still my little brother. He became a father in 1975. Here he is with his first born. He looks so serious. I never did ask him what went thru his mind at that time. We did not talk much since there were so many miles separating us. And we each had our own lives. We always think we have plenty of time. It is always "I will get in touch later". "After this....." or "after that...."

We need to let our loved ones know how we feel while they are still alive. My husband and I always did with each other. But I think we forget to do it with family that we do not see. When family members are so many miles apart, we don't think of it. Or we think we have all the time in the world. We have to learn not to take family for granted. We are always nice to our friends and co-workers and other people. Why are we not nicer to our family members? It is something we all have to work on, I believe.

My husband and I knew we would not have a lot of years together, so we knew we had to enjoy what time we did have. Why don't we ever think that way with everyone? Enjoy the time we do have with friends and family. Let them know we appreciate them. I wish I had been able to tell my brother how much I loved him. Did he know? How could he if I didn't say it. Brothers and sisters don't usually say it to each other, do they. But why not? When we are growing up, our siblings are the closest to us. We live in the same house, we eat at the same table, we sleep under the same roof. We usually see each other every day, until we move away.

This is a lesson we all need to learn. Let people know how we feel while they are still with us. After they are gone, it is too late. There are no "do-overs".


housewife said...

How beautiful, Rhode. Your brother was very handsome and he looked like a sweetie. Thank you for letting get to know him through your eyes. Sending you lots of hugs and light

housewife said...

that was supposed to be letting us get to know him.

GrannyDiane said...

Thank you, Housewife. I knew what you meant. :) He was a sweetie.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you

Warm hugs

Jessica said...

I found your site from a comment you left on my blog. This is such a nice tribute to your brother; I am so sorry for your loss.