Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Brother Jack

My big brother Jack died of lung cancer in 2002.  I miss him.  He would have turned 64 on Friday, so I think about him even more this time of year when we often celebrated our birthdays together.  (I did mention didn't I, that it is my birthday month?)  Anyway, I came across this letter that I wrote him just a few months before he died, and thought that maybe I would post it.  I'll post it because it reminds me, yet again of how hard it is for many of us to give voice to our most important feelings.  I often end up writing them.  I did give this to him and I hope it conveyed the depth of my love, sorrow, and...worship. 

Dear Jack,

I watched the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City just now.  I was moved to tears so often as I watched the spectacle…it was amazing to see the heart and soul put into that show.  Did you get to watch it?  The theme was “The Fire Within” and it was represented by a young boy who appeared often during the show.  He represented the spirit that is in all of us to succeed, to reach our goals…to live. 
But, the real reason that I was moved to tears was because I couldn’t stop thinking about you.  I thought about how you used to call me Shortie, and how you took me up to the Rattlesnake Lakes in that old rattle-trap International Scout of yours, and how you would come home from the Army on leave and bring me gifts like Santa Claus.  And I thought about how much you’ve shaped who I am and what I’ve become.  I love mountains because of you.  I remember when you pointed toward the Bitterroot mountains and told me, “Never take those for granted.”  And I wanted to learn about the world because of you.  I remember when you recited the distance from all the planets to the sun.  And I learned to play because of you.  I remember snow ball fights and playing in leaves and trips on that little motor scooter of yours, and how you taught me to shoot the BB gun. 
And now, I cry because I am helpless to pay you back for all you have given me.  I feel awkward around you as this rotten, horrible disease claims your body.  I’m so sorry that I don’t know how to help you.  I’m so sorry that I can’t make you better, and that I resort to talking about bills and insurance and whether or not your oxygen levels are optimal.  But, please know that I recognize your fire within.  Please know that I am in awe of your spirit and your will to live.  Again, as always you teach me how to live.  You have been my hero since the day I was born.  And you will be my hero until the day that I die. 
I love you more than words can say,


  1. What a tear jerker! I miss him. He's one of my biggest hero's too and I'll never forget him. It makes me so sad that my boys will never know him. I suppose they'll know him through our stories though, right?

    Happy Birthday Uncle Jack!

  2. I know that he was one of my favorite people in the world. He had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world when you were talking to him.

    We miss you tons Uncle Jack.

  3. Joey says....what a tear jerker! But such a nice letter for him to get. I'm sure it meant so much to him. Remember those memories live forever!

    (the only way I can post something now is anonymous)

  4. Can't get the question mark deleted! Okay I'm going to post this anyway?What a tribute to who I can tell was a man who knew what was really important in life. He was a teacher to the very depths of his being. That letter let him know that you got the real essence if who he was being in life. A contribution. An angel disguised as a human being. Just like his sister, Shelley