Friday, December 30, 2011


Today is my Oldest Brother's Birthday.

He would have been 44.

Sonny (his name was Roy, but everyone called him Sonny) died when he was 27 at St.Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, B.C. of Aids-related pneumonia. The Twin and I were each holding his hand when he left this earth.

He was a huge outdoorsman - hunting, fishing, camping - he did it all - even his work (construction) had him outside for most of the year. Sonny was the picture of the average Canadian Redneck: Rock Music, Work Boots, and kicking ass. He was famous in the small town we lived in for fighting - I still tell a story to this day of he and I fighting at home and he picked me up over his head and threw me down a flight of stairs. He then walked down, picked me up again and threw me down the next flight, too. (You know, I can't recall what the fight was about. Possible brain damage, maybe?) But he was also cool enough to me that I would get into High-School parties when I was in Junior High just because he was my brother. His friends called me "Little Roy" because they said he and I looked more alike than the Twin and I do.

Sonny was also Gay.

His being gay never bothered me. It never came out until after we moved out of the small northern town and to Vancouver Island. Nothing was ever really said, but when your brother moves 5 times in 3 years because of work and every time he moves he has the same roommate, you wonder. And when you and your Twin go to visit his new apartment after one of the moves and there's only one bedroom, you stop wondering. On the way out to the car, the Twin and I discussed it like this:

Me: "Did you notice when he showed us around that there was only one bedroom and it only had one bed?"
Twin: "Yeah."
Me: "Does that bother you?"
Twin: "Nope - does it bother you?"
Me: "Nope."
Twin: "Let's go get something to eat."

And nothing else was ever said. It didn't have to be.

He was also a real family-type guy. Sonny was the first one up on Christmas morning (even when he was 18 -19) and would take time out from his work to take on projects like leveling and repairing my Grandparents foundation ( I helped with that one) and building my Parents storage shed. He loved family events and just having everyone together.

I think that's why I miss him a lot this year. Normally the passing of these occasions don't bother me, but for some reason this year just brought some things to mind:

He never got to see my wedding, or the Twin's.
He never got to visit my first house.
He never got to meet Zack and watch him at Karate, or to see Tristan score his first goal in Hockey.
He never got to see the Boys first days at school. Or birthdays. Or Christmases.
He never got to see Aiden and Hannah (the Twin's kids) and enjoy those moments in their lives.

He would have loved all that.

The picture on the right is of the 9th panel at the Vancouver Aids Memorial - go 11 rows down and right in the middle is his name. I went there six years ago and did a bunch of charcoal rubs and framed them for members of my family to mark the 10th Anniversary of his death. I ran by the memorial when I completed the Vancouver Half Marathon. It comforts me to know that there is a spot out there that his name will be forever etched.

Just like it is in my heart.

I miss ya Sonny.


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