Many, many years ago, my parents went with an adoption social worker to observe a little boy playing in the park with his two sisters. Their foster mother had brought them to the park.
When I was in the fourth grade, I got a day off from school. It was the day our family went to downtown LA, to be present for a court ruling. At that hour, my adopted brother John became an official member of our family.
Two weeks ago, I got the sad news that John had passed away. I shared tears with his daughter on that call. I called my sister Lisa and shared tears with her. Later that day I called my sister Suz and shared tears with her.
Since then, I’ve been in a very wobbly state, staying close to home and preferring to speak only with those I love most in the world because, I don’t want to cry with just anyone.
When both my father and mother passed, and when John passed, this foto on the right, was something that came to mind. It was the first Easter that John (far right) was with us. My youthful parents had five healthy children. They owned their home. My father had a secure job and Mama was a happy, stay-at-home mom. She made clothes for herself and her daughters; that Easter she even made matching purses for our dresses. (At age 8, this was when my passion for hot pink began!)
We were the picture of the American Dream. My childhood was very happy and extremely blessed. And suddenly I had a new brother, whom I still love very much.
When John and I spoke later in life, he confided deeply to me and I loved that he felt entirely safe with me to do that. He felt as though our family saved his life, and his gratitude was profound. His formative years were extremely painful. We as a family had no frame of reference for this. At times there were moments that were difficult in our home for all of us and, much healing took place for us as grownups. For this I am profoundly grateful.
Something I loved most about my brother is that he loved to reminisce about our childhood memories. He remembered the tiniest of details to my surprise, and we spent a lot of time laughing and tripping down memory lane. We grew up camping; all of our other humble family vacations included no TV, so we played cards and other games for hours on end. Those moments of our youth are like pure gold, and those treasures provided moments equally precious when we looked back.
John had his daughters when he was very young, and taking pages from our family’s book, he did well to be a great dad and family man. He was extremely proud of his daughters and grandchildren, usually speaking about them with tears in his eyes. He would express amazement that they were his children!
I promised him that all of the very best of him, is present in them.
I told his daughters the same thing just recently and, he will be missed.
The other day I heard his voice telling me that the new cookie recipe I have in mind that will be named for him, in my upcoming cookbook, has his absolute approval -Yes. Yes. Yes.
Mmmmmm, how I look forward to more love notes from my little brother.