Today is my older brother Jim’s birthday. He died in 1995 from AIDS at a time when getting an AIDS diagnosis was a death sentence. Jim is the reason we came to Los Angeles in the first place. He loved living here and we came to visit. It wasn’t long before we felt drawn to live here too.
Jim was one of those guys who loved both sailing and flying. He owned a 45-foot ocean-faring sailboat and a Bonanza Beechcraft airplane. He sailed to Hawaii in his sailboat; he flew to Texas, picked up our mom, and then flew her to New Orleans in his airplane. He also loved motorcycles and rode his Norton all the way from California to Texas to visit our family there. Jim was a do-er. He didn’t want to sit around and wax philosophic, though he did from time to time. Rather, he liked to take action and get things done. He was most energized when he had a plan to execute.
Jim served in the US Navy for several years as a physician. He then moved to Los Angeles where he opened a medical practice in West Hollywood and worked there as a laser surgeon. He was my second oldest brother, 8 years my senior. He was smart, opinionated, generous, and very protective of his little sister. I loved him very much – still do – and miss the chance to sit and talk with him. He adored our three daughters and respected Ray. He pushed me to always choose work that made me happy and encouraged me to take risks to create a better life for myself and my family.
Our family was there when Jim was dying. Sarah and Liz sat in his room doing their homework; Rachael, at three, curled up on the bed with him and they watched sit-coms together. When he was getting close to the end, I suggested that I take the kids home since they could be noisy. Jim shook his head. “You don’t have any idea how happy it makes me to hear those little voices here. Please don’t take them home.”
We were all there when he passed away. Along with my younger brother Sam and my older sister Leslie, who had flown in from other states to support Jim.
Jim believed in family. He honored family. He loved his family and we loved him back.
Happy birthday, Brother. I wish you calm seas and clear blue skies.
You remain in my heart, now and always.