Today is my brother George’s birthday. He would be 70 today if he had not died long before his time at 54. George was one of my favorite people in this world, with a humble spirit coupled with a sharp mind and wry sense of humor. He knew all about suffering and pain, having battled alcoholism the first part of his life and then was diagnosed with jaw cancer two years after he was in recovery. Those 12 Steps served him well as he faced that next big battle which resulted in one side of his jaw being removed. He lived one day at a time and made it for 18 years clean, sober and cigarette-free before he ended up dying of yet another kind of cancer, esophageal.
George felt exceedingly lucky to have a wife and four beautiful daughters he loved. He did not take these gifts for granted. He spoke often of gratitude and he walked through life with grace. Even though he could have been bitter at the amount of illness he faced, he did not focus on that. Instead, he got up every day and did what needed to be done with a happy spirit. He loved music, reading, computers, his friends and his family. He also loved to sing and play his guitar and could wail out some mean blues.
George died as he had lived, with grace and dignity. I was there with him and other family members and was deeply touched by how present and peaceful he was. I felt that George didn’t so much die as transcend. He seemed completely ready to move on to the next plane of existence.
Happy birthday, dear brother. Thank you for being such a shining example of how to live. My life is better (and more peaceful) because of your presence in it.