The Seder went off without a hitch. Except for one of the ten plagues; tornado sirens were shrieking when darkness descended and then, hail! What, you were thinking locusts? After 36 years, I have finally seen my daughter make the haroses. I made the chicken soup with explicit instructions on making matzoh balls from Grandma Ada and they were delightfully soft!
Then the next day I heard that my half-brother in Germany had died. Brian was the Flapper’s second child, her first born son. She was widowed soon after he was born, returning to PA where she met my father. And since I was the last of six children, raised by foster parents, I never really got the chance to know my oldest brother. But I do have a few memories.
I remember when Dr Jim, my closest in age sibling, was pinned with his First Lieutenant bar in the Army. Jim was the first to finish college, Columbia University, and later he would go on to a doctoral program in psychology. Jim would also be going to Vietnam, but no matter. We were all there to celebrate his officer status, and Brian and Michael, who passed away recently, had to salute Jim. Even I could tell, there was some malicious Irish humor in that subservient salute.
He and his wife Hildegarde found it difficult to travel from Germany, but he did get to meet the Bride at Walter Place when Mike and Jorja hosted a wonderful Lynn family reunion. He and Mike were the last remaining smokers of the crew, but sometimes I could catch one of them early, before they were confined to the smoking porch. And I would hear stories of my parents, stories that I treasure to this day.
Brian was born in 1929 and he was Air Force all the way. Exceedingly confidant, tall and straight-talking. He actually taught avionics and radar technology, and after retiring from the service, he had a great job with Texas Instruments. I imagine he looked like his father, the handsome Italian the Flapper married on a dare at the age of 16.
We lit three yartzeit candles, never knowing it should have been four.
Last night we all went out for some delicious Nashville barbeque, and I helped the Love Bug climb her first tree. It was a stately, old magnolia that spread her limbs low and invited children into the natural world. I see a flash of the Flapper’s resilient spirit in my grand daughter’s eyes. Taking risks, we see it early. Will this child be the one running headlong into the ocean? Or will this be the one clinging to your knee at the water’s edge?
I’m sure Brian’s fearless, joyous spirit will live on in his children and his grandchildren and in generations to come.