Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Now there are three....

Something happenned yesterday for which I was not prepared. Being prepared for death is hard work and I am not sure if any of it is easy. My brother Michael died Sunday evening at home, in bed, after a easy Sunday around the house.

Mike had "an episode" several weeks ago where his blood pressure had skyrocketed in the middle of the night and he was taken to the ER until it could be stabilized. Something just wasn't right and Mike went to sleep and did not wake up. Not a bad way to go I presume yet this one bothers me.

When my parents passed away everyone said, " it was a good life" and "things are better for them now". To be sure that was true my father had been ill for a very long time and even he was more than ready. I am not sure Michael was. He was only sixty. That was elderly a hundred years ago but today we are living a great deal longer. The scary news is Mike is only five years.....actually four years and some months older than I. So the call to move into the time of life that sees others go and come seems to be at hand.

I am not going to presume that I know the ins and outs of what happens when one dies. I am convinced that it is the preminent question of life. And to run away from the thought and inevitability of death is a futile activity. I fool around with the history of my family-geneologically. Everyone who has come before has passed away. Sounds like something out of Forrest Gumps lips but it is true. Part of process and function of life is the closing of death and its transformation into what is next.

Michael leaves his wife, three children, two grandchildren and of course his car. If we could afford it we should bury Mike in his car. Would be fitting. I believe we could tell his life story by the different automobiles that he had utilized. From hopped up 1956 Chevy Station Wagon Nomads to sports cars to rebuilt classics. As a Junior High Student having Mike pick me up in his British Racing Green sports car from school was a thrill. He liked going fast and was fond of sliding into the driveway on pleasant place jacking the handbrake in a four wheeled slide.

I am rather pleased he never came to visit. He would be appalled at my garage. He would tell me something to the tune that I am cluttered with teaching thoughts and need to get my brain back on terra firma which translated meant get your tools in shape. My wife would adore his work ethic and voice out loud why I cannot be more like he. She has secretly been envious of my brothers wife. My wife can identify she is a doer as well, just no project or garage skills like Michael.

When my Mother died there was some family squabbling, as there sometimes is, over this and that. And Mike and I would sit on his lawn while I smoked cigars and he smoked cigarettes and talk about being a kid and "the old Man", his term for our Dad, and I learned a bunch. He had values. He wondered why he never made it in the car or dune buggy or some kid of auto business yet he never gave up. Always had something going. He was a doer. I am told he just about vacuumed the lawn before he was finished. Me, I mow it when the neighbors start yelling.

Me ......well, I have not felt well since I heard the news. Took to my sleep regime to be sure I not deprived of any rest. Took a nap yesterday, went to bed early although I was up most of the night watching DIGGING FOR HISTORY, slept in late today and wonder when I am going to get the gumption to get a few things done.

He was my big brother and I have never had life without him. I will miss him.......the old curmudgeon.


Blogger Born in California said...

I remember your family store in Garden Grove ... My son Mark Fleming was born in 1954 .. another son Bruce Fleming was born in 1958 .

I lived in Long Beach at the time ... later in Garden Grove ... attended
Crystal Cathedral before it was CC ... moved to Yorba Linda ... now live in New Hampshire ....

I too have lost several of my family members ... I try to remember the good times and to forget the rest ...

We have been very blessed to have the lived the wonderful life ..


1:09 PM  
Blogger Mark for Cab & Chocolate said...

Thank you did not realize it had been so long since I have written. I teach school and have a Senior in High School who is Captain of a busy, successful and traveling football team which has kept me very busy.

I remember those days with CC-when it was still at the Drive In. Schuller was in the Rotary Club of Garden Grove and I have seen him at our house several times.

Right about now I cannot imagine the chill of New Hampshire. And one of my colleagues is from New Hampshire and I am convinced her blood temp is about at

6:14 AM  
Blogger Born in California said...

I must say California has changed so very much. They say "you can't go home again" and I think that "they" are correct because that world no longer exists.

That is why I enjoyed your blog so much. I can still remember your family even though I did not really know them.

I remember the stacks of Levi's, I still remember you boys wandering around and trying to be helpful... I am so very proud of you "You done good " .

Hopefully the rest of our world can learn from the success of the people from this wonderful state. Yes, Pastor Schuller, his son and his grandson ... The Garden Grove Community Church, Crystal Cathedral were also a part of that transition. I traveled with the church and 800 guest to Israel and Egypt in the year 1999.

Yes, the state of New Hampshire is very cold. It is also very sunny with a bright blue sky and gorgeous green evergreens, maple trees that are red, yellow,and orange. Many lakes, green golf courses and just plain gorgeous !! We love living here !!

We have thermostatically controlled heat and except when I go outside I think I am living in California .

We enjoy all of the seasons. We travel to Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine, they are all just a few hours away. We travel to California too, in fact was just visiting there for my sisters memorial service this past January. She was killed by a drunk driver.

I guess we all go through times in life when "the glass is only half full"

10:54 AM  
Blogger Mark for Cab & Chocolate said...

Yes, the glass does vary throughout life. I have worked hard to keep it half full and by choice quite often with wine as the title of the blog indicates.


The tougher quotient has always been acceptance of the decisions and resulst of life for those I love. For me, I do my best and usually it works out more than fine.

I remember quite clearly sitting in Robert Schuller's office and asking for money when I worked for Youth for Christ. I was trying to raise 100% of my salary. He smiled, and responded, "I have got a large responsibility here myself son." Knew it was pat on the back time at that point.

So sorry to hear of your sister's passing. You know some of the things I have experienced.


5:47 PM  

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