A week ago Tuesday night, I went to the city council, and planned to jump in with both feet the next morning planning the Poet’s Picnic which will be on Sunday, August 5, noon to 3 p.m. at the City Park on the corner of First Street and Military. Everyone is welcome. Bring food to share. Lemonade, ice tea, and watermelon will be provided. Relax and enjoy poetry by a number of poet laureates who will be in attendance.
However, the next morning’s events weren’t on my agenda. My phone rang before I was awake. My younger brother was found dead of a heart attack. Within a couple of hours, I was on my way to Idaho, to partake in the tears, the plans, the hugs, the remembrances that followed.
My brother, Larry had always required some oversight. We never really had a name for his impairments. He grew up before learning disabilities were analyzed or treated, and lived with my mother until she died fourteen years ago. After that, my older sister was a kind of guardian/caretaker. I did what I could to help him, particularly taking him on trips. We hiked in Zion National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Bryce National Park, where he amazed me with a ten-mile walk in midsummer heat. When we got stuck with a 34-foot motor home in Yosemite National Park, he took delight in the flashing lights on the tow truck that pulled us out.
He didn’t particularly like to take direction from his sisters, though he never resisted openly. I was always encouraging him to improve his diet. On that trip, we ate fruit, yogurt, nuts, etc., but he would slip away occasionally to get the kind of things he loved—ice cream, pancakes, pie.
Slow moving and talking, it was easy to lose patience with him. He was childlike—not on a timetable, happy to take time to talk, explore, or look at something unexpected on his path. A bit of a challenge for “A” types like me. He worked doing janitorial services at the Federal Building in Boise. A number of people who worked there came to his service to say how they would miss his smile and his kindness.
I’m glad for the time I spent with him. As I turn back to my affairs, soon to return to Benicia, I’m remembering my brother’s gentle soul and reminding myself to keep my priorities straight.