Monday, December 17, 2007

My Brother Greg II

I spoke of Greg's life and death in part one. This is, as they say, the rest of the story. August 21, 1991, was going to be a good day for me. I had spent much of the previous week waiting the arrival of my new 1991 Volkswagon Vanagon Syncro, the four-wheel drive version of the Vanagon. The dealership had taken my deposit and agreement to accept my 1985 Volkswagon GTI as trade-in if they could find one.

Volkswagon had discontinued the old version of the Vanagon in Europe more than a year earlier in favor of the Eurovan, and they had announced the replacement in the US in 1991. They didn't plan a four wheel drive version of the Eurovan, and only a few years later produced one for European markets. I've always wanted a VW van, so I made the deal for one, if they could find one.

They called me a few days earlier to say they found the last two in western Washington, that dealers would give up, in Everett, and what color would I want, silver or white. I said it didn't matter. They got the white one. And on that day I took the rest of the day off from work to sign the papers and take delivery of it. And driving it away from the dealership was one of the coolest days I've known.

It turned out to be a base model with four wheel drive with one exception. It had the "power' package, meaning air conditioning, power windows and locks, and cruise control. It had removeable middle jump seats with rubber mats. It was meant to be a commercial van, but was now mine. It's virturally unchanged and still 100% stock parts except the addition of higer power headlights and a pair of driving lights.

Well, I got home about 2:00 pm and noticed a message on my answering machine. It was Mom, "Greg has passed away from a heart attack. Meet us at the Denver airport to fily to Kansas City." And the next trip in the van was to the Seattle-Tacoma Airport to fly to Denver and then on to Kansas City for his funeral.

Flying from Seattle to Kansas City was a stark contrast. It was hot and humid every day. The family stayed in Greg and Jo's house to save money (I slept on the couch). Greg was cremated with the stipulation his ashes be spread over the Gunnison River from the bridge in Gunnison, Colorado, his favorite place he ever lived. I would learn years later Mom and Dad had to finally pressure Jo to do that.

Dad was totally quiet throughout the days we spent there and on the way home. He didn't speak to me, which I accepted as my reality and his loss, the loss of what he had put his life into believing his posterity. He never realized he had created Greg's life into an early death. He also didn't speak to me for another year or so, and I only saw him for an overnight stay a year before he passed away in 1994.

When they held the ceremony I kept one of the small bouquets. I packed it in my suitcase for a reason Greg spoke of years earlier.

When Greg was the CFO of AMC Theater company and negotiated the takeover of AMC by a California investor, he had to fly to Los Angeles for the final deal. He said he never saw the Pacific Ocean, and despite the time in LA he couldn't arrange the time to go to the beach somewhere, anywhere, just to stand there and say he saw it.

When I returned home, the first real trip in the van was to the coast, namely Westport south of Aberdeen. It's a quiet stretch of public beach. The north side of Grays Harbor has all the tourist because you can drive on the beach. The south side has the sport fishing community of Westport where I used to go there monthly on groundwater work.

This saturday I parked behind the dune, walked throught break for people, and spent the time watching the ocean. At the end I went to the water's edge, and gently placed the bouquet on the surface, and watch is slowly drift out with each succesive wave. It finally was caught in the outgoing waves and drifted out into the ocean before disappearing from view.

I drove home and decided the van would be called "Spirit" for my brother. And every year I celebrate the day and honor him. My brother. Thank you, Greg.

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