Ah. Finally a new earworm.
For some reason, that song popped into my head as I was contemplating the sad and sudden news that Jim’s older brother Don died in his sleep the other night.
We received the call yesterday while I was doing my sole massage for the day. It made for a surreal, somber evening, I can tell you.
Jim’s summing up after he told me the news was, “Talk about growing up.” I digested this sentence, and realized he was referring to the next level of experience of loss, the time when your first sibling dies. The first level, of course, is your first parent’s death.
“At least I can say, ‘My big brother died.'” he continued. “What about the rest of my brothers? The thought has to be there: ‘My kid brother died this week.’ The thoughts have to be there: ‘Who’s next? You? Me?'”
After dinner we held a wake, and Jim recalled some good times he and Don and Arlene shared in the early seventies, running off to Tahoe when Jim was down from Whidbey Island, Washington on leave. And I recalled going out to Cheyenne to see Frontier Days, we went to the rodeo and Jim remembered it was the coldest we had ever been during the end of July. It was Don, through the auspices of his collection of various distillations, who ushered in the moment of my life when I finally learned that it wasn’t Scotch I didn’t like; it was blended Scotch I didn’t care for. Single malt scotch was another horse entirely, and the end of the era of me being a cheap date ended.
Getting to see the Blackbird SR-71 at an air show held at Beale AFB has to be a peak memory for us as well. It was still pretty tippy top secret at that time, but we were able to experience that because Don was stationed there. Not everybody got to go beyond that barrier on the air base. Totally cool airplane. I have a picture of Jim on my desk that was taken at that air show. I’ll never forget that afternoon, well fueled by beer and sunshine, the smell of jet fuel, the sight of my lover barely dressed in The White Shorts enjoying the bosom of his family, Don, Arlene, the Pink Cowboy Hat. . .
Sorry to see you leave so soon, Don. Enjoy your journey, wherever you may roam.