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  • I've had some great role models in my life. Mom and Dad certainly were. Another major one was my brother Chris.

    I’ve been very neglectful, not writing more about him. You might remember him as the one who inadvertently broke my nose when I was 2 and a half. It’s so unfair that I haven’t talked more about this guy.

    Chris was one of my early idols and heroes, that older brother, 6 ½ years older than me, that I always looked up to, growing up. He was the one I often measured myself against. He was into sports, the one who taught me how to get around Forbes Field, how to play baseball, and he just was someone I wanted to be like.

    He’s still my hero today, although I long since stopped trying to be like him, or anyone else, as I learned to value just being myself. But I still admire the hell out of this guy. He just has such a big heart, and lives his life so well. Long before I took the “Abundance” course, and began to learn how to live an abundant life of my own, Chris was an example of how to do just that. He just lives right.

    When Dad died 16 ½ years ago, Chris began the tradition of inviting any of the family who could make it down to the South Carolina beach for a week or two, around the 4th of July holdiay each year, and in this way, held the family together, as Dad had previously done. At first, just 3 of us regularly took him up on the offer, but eventually, nearly everyone made it down each year, and this became our annual gathering of the tribes. Chris and his wife Cindy made this possible. When they decided to build a winter home down here, Mom decided to move here, as she’d always wanted to live near the beach, and this made the most sense to her. She had her place built here 5 years before Chris got his place built!

    Chris was the one who was down here with Mom when she started, as she put it, going on “the downhill slide” in March. He was in his winter home in Debordieu, 20 minutes below Mom’s place in Pawleys Island, and from March to June, Chris was up there with her every single day, taking her to the endless doctor’s appointments, being with her as she struggled with her rapidly declining health, reporting out to all of us what was going on. Chris is the one who made it possible for her to come up to Jim’s wedding in early June. He normally would have gone back to his summer home, in Michigan, in early May, where he has a very full life and a large family of his own growing and expanding, but he stayed down here to do whatever he could do for Mom. That he even got her up to Connecticut for Jim’s wedding was nothing short of miraculous, considering her condition at the time. She really wanted to go, and Chris made it possible for her to make it. This was the opportunity for everyone to see her, many for the last time. It was a beautiful wedding, and made for a beautiful memory of Mom for everyone. She glowed with joy and pride for her family, there.

    One of the most touching moments of this week, for me, was when Chris broke down as he conveyed how very proud he was of his siblings for stepping up to take care of Mom, when she got worse. He’d just assumed that he would have to do it himself, since he was here, but Mary and I both told him we’d help, and within a day of putting out a call to the rest, we had commitments for siblings, and/or spouses, to come in for the rest of this year, as needed. He was overwhelmed by it.

    I got to spend all of yesterday with my big brother, Chris, the one I still admire as much as I admire anyone on the planet, making all of the plans and arrangements for Mom’s memorial service on Saturday, for closing up her apartment at the Lakes. He wasn’t even going to deal with that this week, as he figured everyone would just be in for the funeral, and dealing with that, and he’d have to come back later in the month to close it up, and have to do it all himself. I’d told him, “Look, I was going to be here until next Thursday, anyway, I can do plenty while I’m here”.

    Then yesterday, brother Jim, his wife Dorothy, Kathy and J.B. all came up and cleared out all of the clothes and linens, took it all up to Salvation Army, and we figured out the plan for all of the furniture. They were doing this while Chris and I were making trips up and down the Grand Strand to the funeral home, the church, the photographer, the bank, doing all of that stuff. Once again, we stepped up and overwhelmed him. I told him, “Hey – we’re your family. It’s not all on you.” He just so deeply appreciated it.

    Mom would be so proud of us all. I know that she is. It’s settled that I’ll be reading my piece, “A Most Remarkable Mom” at the service on Saturday, along with the Roseanne Cash quote/lead-in to my story on the day she died, “Godspeed, Rosemary”. I just did my first practice read-through after I woke up this morning, to time it. Seven minutes, including three breakdowns - I lost track of the number of tears.

    It’s going to be hard – but Mom never told me that life would be easy. She did promise that it would be worthwhile and fulfilling if I applied myself to it, and she never lied about that. It sure has been! And, despite having lost my Mom and my dear, sweet friend, I am finding that it does go on. It is hard as hell facing it without her - as we did all of the running around yesterday, in the back of my mind I kept thinking about Mom back at her place, or over at Debordieu, and had to keep reminding myself - remember, Pete, she's not there. But, in my mind, she kept showing back up there. It's going to take some time getting used to her not being there. Time and tears.

    I just keep applying myself to the next thing in front of me, and with so much love and support everywhere I turn, I know that I don’t face it alone. Everybody’s here with me.

    Sitting on my own, not by myself, everybody’s here with me
    I don’t need to touch your face to know, I don’t need to use my eyes to see
    (From Cat Stevens’ “Sitting”)

    Photo from brother Jim's wedding in June - me and my two oldest brothers, Jim in the middle, Chris on the right. I really love these guys!
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