One of the most amazing men I’ve ever known. He grew up dirt poor in North Carolina–an apple for Christmas poor–and made himself a millionaire without ever going to high school. (Meanwhile I’m considering sending photocopies of my degree in to my health insurance company so they will stop sending me bills because obviously I am smart and they should feel honored to have me on the team.)
I believe that the cause of death listed on his death certificate is heart attack. As much as it breaks my heart that he’s not here anymore, I was actually kind of glad. Some months before that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (the same disease that his mother had which my 5 yr. old self pronounced as “Old Timers” and couldn’t understand why this woman kept asking me who I was every 15 mins), and I was having a hard time with the thought that he would forget all of us.
I was 17 and he was 24. I found out late Friday night, the last day of school before winter break. I was scheduled for work the next morning. My mother, whose membership preceded mine in the dead brother’s club, told me that I should go because what would I do at home? I was fine at work until Janet Jackson’s “Together Again” came on and I froze and one of my favorite customers (I worked at a coffee shop) asked me if I was having boy troubles. I choked out that I had a dead brother; he gave me a hug and then I went and cried in the bathroom for a while.
Other people I can add to this list:
My grandmother who died of pancreatic cancer on April Fools Day
My favorite uncle who makes December 1st personal
A host of other uncles who died for a host of other reasons
A childhood crush who was shot the same day that I was coming back to LA from my sweet 16 trip to Hawaii
My cousin who committed suicide by cop and who taught me that when you have an inexplicable intuition that this will be the last time you see a person, you should believe it
The grandfather that I never knew
The uncle that couldn’t escape his own mind
Charles, the firefighter and avid juicer, whom melanoma took a particular liking to
Today is a day to celebrate and live well and maybe have some peanut butter-chocolate chip vegan cookie dough with breakfast just because you can. 🙂