Today I Lost My Brother

Today I lost a brother.

I hadn't planned to post about him tonight but, somehow, just needed to.  It's therapy of a sort.
Brother Rod, 56, was my Christmas present when I was four years old. At the age of 4, a baby brother isn’t exactly what a little girl has on her holiday wish list.

Over the years, Rod turned out to be a great present.

And he wasn’t just a gift for me.

Rod was a gift to many people. He ran winning campaigns for lots of candidates who probably wouldn’t have won without him

Rod met the big “C” with his first diagnosis many years ago; it was melanoma.

Two years ago, he had a cancerous brain tumor. He had surgery in August 2008; one hour after the brain surgery, he was on the cell phone doing business as usual. Rod quipped: “I can see the headlines now: ‘Shealy Survives Surgery; Dies of Boredom’.”

That surgery removed the tumor – totally – and he was fine.

At least for a while.

Some time during the summer of 2009, he learned that the cancer was in his lungs.

This year, we learned it was back in his brain.

Rod, with cancer eating at his brain and lungs, was still running political campaigns and trying to carry on as usual for the June 2010 primaries.

Just last weekend, he was in his office when he fell and broke his hip. He was scheduled for hip replacement surgery today but had massive bleeding in his brain this morning and was unresponsive.

Rod had maintained a very positive and upbeat attitude. Sometimes he said things like, “The folks at the hospital like me ‘cause everybody else is sick.”

I first ran for office in 1970; he helped me in that campaign and then ran every campaign of mine after that one. He ran my campaign for lieutenant governor in 1990; it’s was my first loss and I believe he took it harder than I did.

But, like with any loss or any setback, he bounced back quickly.

When I asked him several years ago if it was too late to throw my hat in the ring for a particular race, he replied, “Yep. By about 34 years.”

Whether it was politics, family, or anything else, Rod enjoyed life to the fullest. He had a dry wit, a keen sense of humor and a heart of gold. He loved to play the guitar and sing. He loved being creative.

Other than in the hospital bed, I can’t remember the last time I saw him without a bright floral Hawaiian shirt. That was one of his trademarks. In fact, he went to an inaugural ball; like others, he wore a tuxedo – but with the Hawaiian floral print bowtie and cummerbund, along with tennis shoes, I believe.

He adored his two grandchildren; they adored him as well and called him “Rod-Boy.”

Other than Mom, I’ve known him longer than anyone else, and I will miss him more than anyone can imagine.

What a valuable Christmas present he was!

To read his own views about life and death, click here:  http://blondesherry.blogspot.com/2010/08/ww-say-little-prayer-for-my-bro.html


Syd said...

Sherry, I heard about his death on the news this evening. I didn't make the connection. I am very sorry. He must have been a great fellow.

Sandee said...

I'm so very sorry honey. Losing a baby brother has to be very difficult. Big hug honey. :)

Sarge Charlie said...

Miss Sherry I cannot began to tell you how sorry I am about Rod. Just so you know, I drew strength from him during my illness. He was my hero and he gave me the will to keep up the fight when I was ready to quit, thank you for introducing him to me, I can hear him now saying “It’s Me Again, Jesus! I'm ready now.”

Iris Silk said...

Rod was one of a kind. There will never be another. How lucky we are when we have one of these characters in our lives. God bless him.

Anonymous said...

My brother died at the age of 56. The hospital incorrectly diagnosed him with ulcer pain. Eight hours later he was dead from his pancreatic enzymes (measuring 121,000 instead of 200) totally digesting his internal organs. A big, muscular man, reduced within hours into a moaning, thrashing, OLD man barely resembling my robust brother of the prior day.

After losing both parents, I can still say that losing my brother was the greatest pain of all and I kept waiting for the universal mistake to be corrected.

At his funeral, his surviving family only filled a few chairs, but the overflowing crowd extended into the parking lot as we heard, time and time again, of the number of people Rob had cared for and helped, all without our knowledge.

When a GREAT brother dies, no other pain equals it unless a child goes before its parent. My heartfelt condolences to you and his family.

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Oh! A dear and wonderful present for you, that is for sure! I love your family photo. Your brother, sister and you were adorable. I am catching up on your posts here... and working my way forward.

Thoughts and prayers!
Blessings & Aloha!

This site was recently updated by oxymoron13@aol.com