Saturday, March 8, 2014

Remembering My Brother John

My brother John would have been 60 years old today.
He passed away in 2010, at the young age of just 56 years.  He had been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier that year and lost his battle a few months later, after a valiant fight.
Brother John was the seventh of eight children -- but only the second boy among six girls.  In the 1961 photo below, that is my hand on his shoulder.  (Do you suppose he's holding his hand over his mouth in wonder at what he's in for with the realization of his birth place in the family of six girls and two boys?)
By the time he came along, after one boy and five girls, he was a welcome addition to the family.  Growing up, with five older sisters all acting like other mothers, he was especially tight with his one younger sister.  They were seldom apart as children and shared a friend-pool throughout high school.  In fact, when the baby of the family relocated to Kitchener/Waterloo in 1978, it didn't take long for him to make the decision to move his family to that area.
John married in June 1973, and his first daughter was born a year later.  He and his wife actually lived with me through the summer of 1974, with their infant daughter, and oh what a heat wave we were having!  I recall sitting outside in our very small yard trying to get relief from the August heat but there was none to be had.  We would sit up through the night, talking and reminiscing, rocking his daughter, hoping that she would at least drift off for a while.  It was a brutal summer!
His son was born only four months after my little chickadee came along and we visited back and forth often.
When I returned to work after my little chickadee's arrival (at that time, maternity leave lasted all of six weeks!), my brother John would pick me up every morning to deliver my daughter to the infant care centre so that I wouldn't have to take the bus with her.  I recall that it was an especially heavy snow-fall that winter of 1975/76, and he never missed a morning!
Once he moved out to Southwestern Ontario, our contact became less frequent.  In fact, the last time I actually saw my brother was the summer of 2005 at our niece's wedding.
He had relocated to Fort Erie some ten years earlier, a considerable drive from here, and my health issues had prevented me from making the trip (any trip, actually) because I simply could not travel.
In the intervening years, his first marriage had ended in divorce while his children were teenagers, and he remarried, welcoming another daughter to the fold in 1993.
By the year 2000, he was the father of three (one boy), and grandfather of three (all girls), so he was still outnumbered by women, but he was  fiercely proud of his family.  His youngest grandchild is not in the photo below, which was taken in 2008.
Throughout the summer of 2010, he enjoyed visits from family members and close friends, many of whom he had not seen in several years.  My little chickadee was able to make the trip and he was delighted to see her.
He was especially pleased to have the opportunity to meet my little chickadee's family (Pauple and his daughter were also there), having only met my beautiful boy once before (at the aforesaid niece's wedding five years earlier).
My brother John with my beautiful boy -- July 2010
Rest in peace, brother John.
Robert John Cherryholme
8 Mar 1954 - 27 Aug 2010

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