I don’t know if he ever reads my blogs, surfs the internet or has a clue what is going on in my life, yet, he was at every holiday table, every life event, every year of growth and change. We stopped communication at the request of his wife. It is impossible to convince someone that you are family, not a threat, if they don’t choose to see it that way.
JT was my brother, Duncan’s best friend. They fought on occasion but he was the counterpart to my crazy brother, they were uniquely different. Whereas Duncan liked to drive all night or work until breakfast when things needed to get done, JT was a dreamer, a consummate spendthrift who only worked as hard as necessary. He had a higher flash point; Duncan just looked at life’s setbacks and said, “Huh?” Then went on to solve the problem. I never understood their relationship. When Duncan died, JT was the first non-blood relative to arrive in Houston. It was Christmas Day, 1985. The only businesses open were donut shops and funeral homes.
When all was said and done, JT and I stayed behind in Houston to close a chapter in life and tie up loose ends. We spent 10 days dealing with lawyers, insurance companies, the funeral home and Duncan’s friends. We packed long yellow legal pad lists of ‘To Dos’ into each day and fell into our separate sleeps of grief every night.
Years before Duncan died, JT moved to Antrim to ‘caretake’ my dad who had just survived a heart-attack. Dad resented the intrusion of a live-in watch dog and JT was kind enough to put up with the crotchety atmosphere. They grew on each other, sort of…
When life moved on, Jeff, Lexie and I moved out of the city. Uncle JT was at every Thanksgiving and Christmas, not to mention the frequent weekend visits in between. He was an Uncle and a Godfather. The fox hunt club we belonged to made him an honorary member, he loved the cottage and my grandfather’s workshop as his own. Our home was his home. He saw me through marriages, births, deaths and divorces. He was the best stand-in brother I could have imagined.
The year before he wed, having weathered my divorce and managed to remain close to all parties, he came with me on those long weekends when I competed. He was well-trained for His role as my helper following years on our farm and fox-hunting. Folks at the Bed & Breakfasts where we ended up lodging always scratched their heads when I introduced him as my “groom” and we ordered separate bedrooms. We saw a Zebra in Vermont and met a few crazy people…all was fodder for conversations to keep me awake on the long truck rides home.
His wedding to this woman was beautiful. I photographed it for him, a last effort to bridge the gap. A beach on Cape Cod, barefoot in the sand, I watched as he professed his love to her. It was a healing moment for Jeff and I as well. We were having so much fun at one point a guest leaned over and whispered, “I heard you two were divorced?!” But that day, I lost JT forever. She hated the photographs. She banned him from having any contact with me ever again. He agreed.
How do I take a life-time of memories and pack them away knowing that person is still living, still out there but will have nothing to do with me??
Some last-minute advice from Carl while JT’s brother looks on…
The bride and groom