Year of Grace, Day 226. The saddest of times, the happiest of times

On this first day of this new year 2016, I am sipping and savouring with great pleasure, and for the first time ever, chocolate- and macadamia-infused Kona coffee, a prezzie from my cousin Becca who lives in Hawaii. We would not have met again recently (the last time we saw each other was over four decades ago), had it not been for my brother Stan’s passing in early December. Thus, out of the family’s and my brother’s misfortune –- many blessings and much, much grace.

And indeed to meet again and spend time with long-unseen relatives for my brother’s funeral have been unlooked-for blessings. There were also new family members — greatnieces and greatnephews, in-laws — to be acquainted with. It was as well an occasion to marvel at and be impressed by how fine these extended family members have grown, and how pleasant and wonderful they were to be and speak with! It was indeed the saddest of times and the happiest of times. Veritable yin-yang.

Having stayed a week longer at my brother’s place after his funeral, I found it difficult not to unconsciously expect him to pop in at the door, as if he were just back from work or had just gone out briefly to do some shopping. I kept expecting him to burst in somehow as I huddled with other relatives reminiscing about him. It was almost as if at any moment he would cut in with his boisterous greetings and (just a tad) overloud voice (a family trait – most of us being prone to becoming rather overexcited in company). Where were his jokes and his spontaneous puns that always cracked us up and made us groan more often than not?

It would have been nice to play one last heated game of Scrabble with him – he was ever so competitive. To be able to top a 7-letter word of his with one of my own, just as I had oh so many decades ago with “fluorine.” That was my first ever 7-letter Scrabble move.  I appreciate how he never dumbed down his game for ten-years-younger me.

But of all the things I rue the most — it is not hearing his remarkable tenor voice again, soaring astonishingly and rather frighteningly high. I was always rather anxious his voice would break, but it never did. And it is indeed a great pity that his wonderful singing voice has not, so far as I know, been recorded for posterity. Oh how I wish, just for one day, perhaps even just for one hour, that he could be magicked into life and be well enough to sing one of his favourites, that I might be able to record it and listen to him again and again. And he would be there, with his marvelous voice, anytime I cared to listen.

A day lily blooming by the Palo Alto public library, a short walk from my brother's house.

A day lily blooming by the Palo Alto public library, a short walk from my brother’s house.


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