I’ve missed the anniversary of my brother Bill’s death by a week now. It’s been three years, as of December 3. That was a rough Thanksgiving weekend, because my aunt had passed just two days prior. Twenty-three years my senior, Bill was important to me — is important, more so with each passing year — because he was a third parent to me. Which is effing hilarious, because he in no way wanted kids of his own. Funny how I seem to have followed him in that aspect. Anyway, his friends all referred to him as Bemo, and he was the epitome of chill. When I was little, Bemo lived in rural Upcountry Maui. He was married briefly and he and his wife Janice kept a pack of golden retrievers, a black poodle named Primo, a Jack Russell named Nipper, and a goat. I think the goat’s name was Billy. I was young. They may have been shitting me. There was a lot of beer and pot in that house. Too much for Janice, I think. After their divorce, Bill moved back to the mainland — wifeless and dogless — and spent half his year in San Clemente, Calif, and half in Park City, Utah. In short, he didn’t lead a lifestyle conducive to wife, let alone wife and kids. Yet he mentored two Little Brothers in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. One he practically adopted. And he always supported me, playing cross country team adult at away meets, encouraging my skiing by putting me up in Park City once or twice a year, driving home with me across country, from North Carolina to California, when I graduated from college. I couldn’t see then how much influence he would have on me now. I always thought of him as the dude, the surfer/skier, the ‘what’s up, brah’ brother, the 70’s streaker and surfer, the 80’s surfer, skier, team “dad,” the 90’s snow boarder.
I know the 00’s and the 10’s were rough on your body, Bill. I know you felt like you were ready to go long before you actually went. You were ready. I wasn’t.
Merry Christmas, Bemo.