Monday, December 17, 2007

My Brother Greg

This is a photo of my brother, November 30, 1943 - August 21, 1991, (sorry, it's a scan of a poor print) in 1990, a year before his sudden death from a heart attack, when he was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a automobile transport company. He was hired only about a year or so before being the CEO of American Movie Corporation (AMC Theater). He was the CEO for a year after being the CFO and negotiating the takeover by a California company.

My brother began with AMC Theater a long time before that when it was a small regional theater company and wanted to go national. He was the chief negotiator in the takevoer deals for many regional theaters into the AMC chain of theaters in the 1970 and 1980's. He loved this job as it was always changing with each negotiation for the buyout and the transfer of the resources into the company.

He hated a routine job, any routine job, even though he graduated with a Bachelors degree in Accounting. After college and a few years in a larger account firm, he split off into numerous partnerships before becoming a regional accountant for a Denver-based company. He was living in Gunnison, Colorado and was in charge of southwest Colorado accounts. He loved the job, and especially loved the place.

But his family didn't like the remoteness of Gunnison and our parents hated driving over the Rocky Mountains for visits. So after about two years he moved back to Denver and then accepted the job with AMC in Kansas City, Kansas. While his loved the job, he hated living there. He knew, however, as the elder son and our father's hope for the future, he knew his fate in life.

The one time when I visited him in Gunnison for a family reunion we had a good conversation about life. He spoke of his frustration of his life, being the elder son and all the things Dad wanted to see him accomplish. He was in effect, our Dad's older brother, to be something and have a good family. He always said how much he hated it.

It was also the first time I learned how our father viewed each of us sons. He, being the executor of the estate had all the responsbility of that but he wasn't mentioned in the will until the last of a six page will. I was mentioned somewhere in page three. Our sister on the other hand was in the first two-plus pages. He said that alone was a statement.

I urged him to consider making his own life, even if angered our parents, I certainly did, and maybe resulted in a divorce, which mine was the first in the extended family. He smoked 1-2 packs a day and drank quarts of whiskey a week. He was on the fast road to death, and he knew it, but after all the words, he knew the reality of his life.

I suggested he consider being a senior accountant, CFO or Treasurer for some non-profit organization, a university, or something that had the variety of work, be around a lot of people, was in a place he liked, and be something far less stressful with his family and our parents. But with a wife and three kids, he accepted the reality of his life.

After turning 40, he began to see the real reality of his life. After 20-plus years of smoking and drinking, he had a heart attack. A few years later he had an angioplasty to remove blockages in several arteries. A few years later, he had both lungs pumped when they were half full of liquid. The doctors told him the next time he'll need his heart and both lung replaced.

About a year after this photo was taken, he did something he had never done, he went home for lunch. It wasn't a short drive for him, but mostly he didn't really like being at home, seeing the reality of what he had brought into the world. He had three good kids, but they weren't the easiest to raise. On top of that, a child psychologist and our parents blamed him and Jo, his wife, for the problems with the oldest.

I didn't like that and told our parents in no specific terms that I supported him against anyone. Not so much he was my brother, but because I felt our parents shouldn't interfer and the child psychologists had their views, some right and some wrong, but I would leave it to Greg and Jo to make the right decision for them. They did and the kids came out ok, but it was hard for about 5-6 years.

When he got home for lunch, he went into the house, told Jo and each kid how much he loved them. He then sat down on the couch to smoke a cigarette. He didn't get to finish it as he had a massive heart attack and died within minutes. When they did an autopsy they discovered both lungs more than half full of liquid.

He knew the reality of his own life and his own death. He choose the circumstances of it, and while it wasn't a good things for the kids to see, he wanted to be home.

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