He loved music.
He loved to play a song and stop it after a few bars and ask, “Name that tune!” And, before you could even get the answer out, he’d be onto the next one. It was a game he always won because he controlled the music. He knew all the songs.
My brother passed away on St. Patrick’s Day, 19 years ago today.
It sounds like a long time when written that way. 19 years.
Grief wears thin with time’s passing. But the missing doesn’t fade. Especially on this day. The day of wearing of the green when my brother would celebrate all things Irish in honour of our dad whose Irish roots ran deep.
My brother didn’t look very Irish. He was dark and handsome. More Arabian prince than Irish duke. But he had the Irish way. One minute dark and brooding. The next smiles and laughter as if the blue sky was a gift that he could bestow upon everyone with just his smile. Like a bright sunny day, my brother could win over any heart. Young or old. Male or female.
I was reminded of my brother this morning as I watched a video of two men having an Irish dance off this morning. I laughed.
They made me think of my brother. He died long before Facebook became ‘a thing’. I can only imagine his feed. It would be filled with inspirational videos and quotes. Things to make every heart smile and every mind open.
My brother would have loved to watch the two men in their dance, but he would never have joined in. George could not dance. He had no rhythm. None at all.
We used to tease him about it. My sisters and I. We’d stand still and move one foot in semi-time to the beat of the music. We’d put our hands on our hips and randomly fling out one arm, not in time to the beat, bob our heads spasmodically and laugh and say, “Look George! I’m dancing like you!”
And my brother would laugh with us and parody himself dancing just like us making fun of him. Because despite his lack of rhythm, he loved a good joke and his laughter was always a song of joy.
Which was about the only song he could sing in tune. He had no rhythm and I swear, he was tone death too.
Midnight mass was always a killer. Especially as we got older and the Revillon my mother insisted we revel in before midnight mass also included my brother and dad imbibing in copious amounts of Irish whiskey. We’d go to the church and stand in the back (my brother was notoriously late for everything) and George would insist on singing at the top of his lungs. “God doesn’t care if I can’t carry a tune,” he’d tell me laughingly. “He just likes to hear the sound of my voice singing!” And he’d belt out another note as my sister Anne and I would attempt to drown out his singing with what we considered to be our more harmonious sounds.
As a kid he tried to play every instrument under the sun. But the lack of rhythm thing always got him. Especially when he was learning the drums. It was painful. We begged him to please stop. To make it end. But he persisted. I’m not sure if he actually liked playing the drums or just enjoyed the tormenting of his sisters more. I have a feeling it was the latter.
He was one boy amongst three girls. Second in birth-order. First in-line of sight. Or at least, that’s what I always jokingly told him. The sun rises and sets on the son, I’d say and he would smile knowingly and carry on with whatever mischievous misdeed he’d concocted that inevitably came back to roost on me. I knew better than to compete with his position in the sun. I knew better than to try to set the record straight. The only nickname he ever carried at home was ‘Music man.’ Mine was ‘The Brat’. No contest. It was always my fault when things went wrong.
And they often did with George’s escapades. He loved to play tricks but he wasn’t very adept at scheming. And he could not keep a straight face, no matter how hard he tried. Which always made it difficult when he tried to play a joke on someone. Inevitably, before the punchline was ever reached, he’d break into laughter and tell the recipient what was going on.
I think he knew that his jokes and tricks were never that funny.
But it didn’t matter. His enthusiasm for the execution of a joke, and his desire to bring everyone in on the joke long before the game was up, won over the hearts and minds of everyone who came within his sphere of influence.
And his sphere was great.
That’s the thing of being like the sun. You touch everyone with your warmth.
My brother and his wife Ros, passed away on this day 19 years ago.
Grief wears thin with time’s passing. And still, they are missed.
This is the video that made me smile in memory of my brother this morning.