Greg was my older brother, born November 30, 1943, less than eight months after our parents got married. It was the times, so you can do the math. He died August 21, 1991. On about May 25, 1997 we became the same age, only I got older. My memories of him are sporadic he being 6 years older and a generation apart, written in a book decades later as the lost generation, those born between the depression era and post WW-II children, between those of the Korean and Vietnam wars in the teens to avoid the experience of the draft and war.
We were so different. Our parents were from old German stock (mother) and English (father), three of our grandparents coming over around 1910 to find a new life. Only our maternal grandmother (Shufeldts) had an ancestry in the US going back to the 1830's. While Greg was of the German side, our sister of the English side, and I was the hybrid, born with parts of each. While we grew to the same height, he outweighed me by 50 pounds, all in his heavy set frame and bones. I had the german height and size with the english frame.
We were so different. He was the first born, the son who had to achieve. He had the personality to succeed, eventually becoming the CEO of AMC theater company based in Kansas City. I was the black sheep, expelled from the family at 19 to serve in the military and rarely go home again. Greg has attachments to the family throughout his life as the executor of the estate and pride of the family. He was the son they wanted, only to die at 47.
We were so different. He was outgoing, high school football player, and popular. I was the quiet one, the extreme opposite in personality. While I achieved what I wanted, by leaving, he never acheived what he wanted, by staying. He always said he couldn't leave the life Dad planned. While I lived a life I later learned he respected and admired, and I likewise with him, we both realized we did what Dad expected, he played his sons to his own end, and in the end lost them both, one to an early death and the other to an early departure.
We were so different. We never really connected until a family reunion in the mid-1980's when we had time to talk by ourselves. We discovered our common ground and regretted the lost years. We had good conversations during the following years whenever we had reunions or family occasions - I only came if he came and left early after Greg and I had time to discuss the world. I always wished he had followed up on his personal goal when living in Gunnison, Colorado. He wouldn't go against the family to stay and build a new life.
He died one hot August Kansas day. He came home from work, something he had never done before, which surprised his family. He sat down on the couch, smoked his last cigarette, and quietly had a heart attack. While everyone says his death was sudden, we know it wasn't as he was told shortly before he needed a heart-lung replacement from the 30 years of cigarettes, alcohol, and stress, and 5 years after heart and lung treatments. He couldn't decide his life, only his death, and his ashes spread in the river he loved.
In the end we were so different and the same. A week doesn't go by I don't wish we lived near where we could sit down with a beer and talk about life. We learned on the outside we were different, we learned our hearts and minds were the same, made from the same stock with the same goals. We were brothers. I miss him.
|[Top] [Columns] [Home]|