This week marks 14 years since my brother passed away of a heart attack on the operating table during his 12th surgery related to metastatic kidney cancer. I knew that my brother was very special in his kindness and caring and willingness to help others and I was so very happy that he was able to combine all of these wonderful attributes into a very successful career. But what I learned at the funeral left such a lasting impression on me knowing all of the pain with which he had suffered and all that he had endured since his original diagnosis 17 years earlier at the age of 44.
“How could I possibly mourn my brother’s death knowing all that he had suffered through and all that he had accomplished?“Barbara Jacoby
Standing outside of the church before the funeral began, there were 5 gentlemen who sought me out and introduced themselves to me. They all were men who had been hired by my brother to run operations at several of the plants around the country that were owned by the Company for which my brother worked. They explained how they felt about the person that they had known and one even told me that my brother had been his mentor. Each was so genuine in his love and respect for my brother as they paid their respects to him that I knew how much he had meant to each of them.
There was also another man who was there by himself for the funeral who indicated that he had to leave immediately afterward to return to his job but who took the time to tell his story to me. This gentleman had been working at the plant in Atlanta and had repeatedly asked to be transferred to the plant in Florida but to no avail. One day my brother happened to be walking through the Atlanta plant when this individual decided that he would approach him and ask him directly about the possibility of a transfer. He told us that within one week he had received the transfer for which he had waited so very long and he made it very evident how much that had meant to him. There was no way that he would miss this opportunity to pay his final respects to a man who had changed his life forever.
And then there was the man who obviously was my brother’s best friend. He gave a beautiful eulogy and really captured the essence of my brother. Later at the gathering after the funeral, he and his wife went out of their way to join Kirk and me and to not only tell us so many things that I didn’t know about my brother but also to tell us how my brother felt about my sister and me and what we meant to my brother. It didn’t take long to realize that if my brother had shared such intimate details with his friend that this guy must really be someone so very special and before the end of the day, we sure understood that he truly was a special person and a special friend to my brother.
This friend shared a very special story with us. It seems that when my brother lost first a kidney and then a lung to renal cell cancer, he became involved in not only volunteering with his wife at the Ronald McDonald House but also started making calls to other survivors of this type of cancer. He made a special connection with a gentleman in the state of New York who wanted to give up on life on a good number of occasions but my brother would continually talk to him and explain to him about all the reasons that he had to continue. Over the next 14 years of my brother’s life, they continued to talk and he continued to motivate his new friend to keep on going. My brother passed away on Tuesday, March 18th but his friend’s family did not tell him about the passing until the following Sunday Within 48 hours, my brother’s New York friend passed away also and went to join the man who had kept him going in this life for so very long.
What a man my brother had become. What a legacy he had created for himself and how fortunate I felt to have had the opportunity to learn all that I had about him. How could I possibly mourn my brother’s death knowing all that he had suffered through and all that he had accomplished? No, I was so grateful that he had made such a difference in so many peoples’ lives, that his pain and his fight with cancer were finally over and I celebrate a life so very well lived.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.