My brother Charles passed away yesterday after a long struggle with COPD. Just a few weeks ago he had moved to South Carolina to live near his son, Brad. Throughout his last week he was surrounded by family. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren visited often, his granddaughter Nicole spent nights by his bedside and his wife Virginia held his hand through the long days. Brad was there at all hours of the day and night. A few weeks ago, in a telephone call, Charlie had said with sadness, that the three of us siblings would probably never be together again. I think he was aware that our sister and I were both there to say goodbye.

Charlie was two years younger than I and had lived in Florida for many years. We both married young and lived in different parts of the country. Over the years we saw each other occasionally, usually at weddings or funerals. The past few years, as his health worsened, I tried to visit him at least once a year.

On those visits we would reminisce about our childhood, share photos of children and grandchildren, play cards, go out to dinner, and take excursions to area attractions. His son and grandchildren lived in other parts of the country. I had never even met his daughter-in-law, Elaine, until two years ago and don’t remember ever meeting his grandchildren.

I watched his family as they surrounded him with love and care. I knew him as my younger brother, a man with a great sense of humor who enjoyed meeting people and playing golf. He was a man who loved to sing he loved to talk. Last week I saw him in a different way, as an adored father and grandfather. A gentle man who had always been there for his family and who would leave a great void in their lives.

I feel privileged to have been able to share in his last hours and sorry that I hadn’t really known the lovely, nurturing side of him.

Charlie and me, June 1940

Charlie, 1956

 

 

 

Charlie ~1953

Family wedding 1999