Saturday, May 28, 2011

Where were you?

There are certain days that one remembers always.  People remember anniversaries of great events, horrendous events, and glorious events.  Examples are endless:  the wedding day, the assassination of JFK, or just about anything where the images, sounds, and smells are forever ingrained in our computer-like brain.

In fact, someone can ask you, “What were you doing when you heard the news about the assassination of John F. Kennedy?”  Most of us who were cognizant at the time can call up that moment with clarity and emotion.  For me, I was sitting in my 7th grade classroom, when the principal walked in and told us.  The room was cold and silent.  Then a boy turned in his chair, and it squeaked.  Another boy laughed.  We looked at each other, and then looked down quickly.  I didn’t know what to do with my hands, or where I should look.  Yes, a frozen photograph with sensory sound.

Robert Peck (in glasses)
I remember what I was doing on May 19, 1997.  It was five o’clock in the afternoon, and I had just gotten home from school.  There was a ‘to-do’ list running wildly in my head, and I was pulling dinner together.  The phone rang and I answered it, with the list still occupying my attention.

It was my parents.  I immediately sat down, and felt a chill creep over me from my head down to my toes.  I started to shiver.  “Yes?”  I answered. 
Easter 1959; Robert (glasses)

“Robert is gone,” my father’s voice sounded tired, stretched tight.
“This afternoon, two hours ago,” my mother filled in from another phone.  “It happened quickly.”  Mom’s voice was flat and without any light.

Robert & Cheryl, 1970
“I’ve got to go.  I need to make arrangements.”  I hung up.  I didn’t want to know how, for his death had been fast approaching, and the days passed while we held our collective breaths.  “Any day now,” was what my folks said every day when I called to ask “How’s Robert today?”

Uncle Robert with my Mary, 1985
Robert is my brother, and was born in January 1951; I was born in December 1951, and we were 10.5 months apart.  We were always close, and the attachment we felt stretched across countries, was always fresh and strong.  He discovered he had a brain tumor, an angioplastic astrocytoma, or a multiform glioma., in August 1995.  He had a dangerous surgery in early September 1995.  Robert lived nearly 21 months following his diagnosis.

Robert at Mom's kitchen table on the farm
So, today, I write this in Robert’s memory, for I know what I was doing when the phone call came.
Dad, Robert, brother Don, and my husband John
This is being posted on Memorial Day weekend, a time for families to remember departed loved ones, and to honor deceased veterans.  I needed to write this and breathe it out onto paper. I think of my brother Robert every single day, and I miss him dearly.


  1. I wish I could reach out and give you a hug.

  2. This is when the comments box seems so inadequate. I am so sorry for your loss. I know time helps, in a weird way, but I also know time takes none of it away. Robert is lucky to have a sister who can articulate her memories so beautifully. xox

  3. Wonderful tribute to a wonderful brother...sending love your way!!

  4. You gave me sorry about your loss.

  5. *hugs you*
    A beautiful tribute to your brother. I'm sorry I'm reading this so late after Memorial Day.


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