Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy birthday, my dearest brother Loren

Dearest Loren,
You are 65 years old today.  You’re retired for sure. Are you having a party somewhere? In that place beyond life that some call heaven and others view as a cosmic space where souls live forever?  Do they celebrate birthdays and holidays and deaths wherever you are?  

For me your birthday still brings a profound sense of loss, deeper than any I've ever felt.  I should be over my grieving after two years, some say, but it goes on.  I want to see you.  I want to talk with you about the recent elections, the environmental disasters and political disasters.  I want to hear you tie it all together: “All things are connected,” you used to say, quoting your favorite Chief Seneca.  And “There are no ends in nature, only beginnings.”  I want to hear you tell me about your new “beginnings,” if there really is such a thing.

I thought there was a possibility you would move up North from Tallahassee when you turned 65.  You talked about returning to our hometown of Rochester, NY.  I remember how much you loved the history and folklore of that whole western New York State region, down to and around the Finger Lakes and Seneca Falls.  “New York City is NOT the whole state of New York,” you used to say emphatically. You studied Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage and the roots of the woman’s movement and the civil rights movement.  You knew the history, culture and enduring impact of the Iroquois Nation.  You understood the social ecology of the region. How well I remember your Master’s thesis,  combining all your knowledge and interests.  You tell about it in your autobiography, An Asperger Journey, which is so special to all of us who know your story and love you. You are still helping people, Loren.

But I would try to convince you to come to Sylvania.  Our history is almost as good as the Rochester-area, in fact it started there!  We have our native peoples' history, an interesting agricultural, labor and immigrant history, and we even had an underground railroad here during the Civil War. I live next door to a lovely boutique called “Harmony in Life” and can feel the spiritual vibes from that place, the aura of feminine spirituality.  You’d like it.  This area has many environmental organizations, and a lot of political and community activism, too.  You’d like the Toledo Streets newspaper, the Cherry Street Mission, the urban art and garden projects downtown, our metroparks.  We could hike together, hike into the sunsets and the moon rises, so clear and beautiful in this part of the Midwest.  

Would you have considered it, moving to Sylvania, that is? Or doesn’t it matter anymore?  Maybe you are here, but I don't know it. Maybe where you are now you don’t have to fight the good fight for peace and justice. Maybe you are actually living it.  Lots of people tell me that’s so.  I want to believe it.  But I don’t know.  Maybe if I could hear you, Loren, I’d believe.  

No matter where you are, dearest brother, my soul mate and spiritual twin, I send you blessed birthday wishes.  I miss you more than words can say.   The world is not the same without you in it.  I hope that we will be together again some day.  Some day soon.  Your ever-loving sister, Fran


Some other blogs about my brother (can't list them all, there are too many, but my way of keeping track):
 I did a whole series on Loren and HH, Jean Auel, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Mark Twain, Scottie Pippen, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and other heroes he admired.

I wrote the following essay soon after getting settled in Starobelsk, Ukraine, with the Peace Corps, before my brother died. I'll never forget that phone call from my sister on an early Saturday morning in May, as I was sitting in the living room of the little house on Panfelova where I had a room.  I cried to the heavens. And then I began the longest, saddest journey of my life, back to Tallahassee for my brother's memorial service. 
My Brother Loren
My brother Loren is in Tallahassee, Florida, but he is also here in Starobilsk, Ukraine with me.    That's because we are soulmates.  We share a way of looking at the world and a way of being that transcends space and time.  Although eight years apart, we are almost twins, as my poet friend Anton would put it. 
Loren is having a birthday this week, 12 November (this was 2009), so I think of him a lot at this time of year.  He's a Scorpio with compassion.   I also take him places with me.  When he drove me to the airport to see me off on my Peace Corps adventure at the end of March, I took his spirit with me.  When I discovered Chernigov during my training, he was there, encouraging me to forge ahead.  When I broke my arm, he was with me in Kiev.  Whenever I see the moon, I see Loren, because I know he is looking at it too, and glorying in the fullness of being and the grandeur of the universe.
As I get to know Ukraine, he is by my side, giving me the ancient history of this place.  He reminds me that this geograhy and culture go back thousands of years, to the time Jean Auel describes  in her best-selling  novel (and Loren's favorite book), Clan of the Cave Bear.  He reminds me that the names of people I write about in my blog, Anton, Natasha, Lara, Anna are characters in his favorite novels by Tolstoy.
Loren is one with the goddess who watches over the earth with compassion and goodness, the female counterpart of God who teaches us to live in peace, to take care of her planet, to see the oneness and unity of people and the earth. "All things are connected,"  Chief Seneca said, exemplifying the ancient wisdom of the Goddess and the native peoples of America.  That why while I am in Ukraine and Loren is in Florida, we are really sharing the same place, mother earth.
Now Loren is writing his memoirs about growing up with Asperger's Syndrome.  My brother is a fierce warrior who fought a beast that held him back all his life.  He never gave up.  He kept fighting, even when he wasn't sure what he was fighting against.  There was no name for it when he was a child in the 1950s or a young man in his 30s and 40s.  Loren searched for himself without a guide, on his own, with grit and determination.  Only our mother took Loren under her wing and gave him hope.  His story is one of struggle against the odds, and achievement. He has come to understand himself and the path he was put on at birth.  It hasn't been easy.  I am proud of my brother for making his life one of purpose and meaning.  So Happy Birthday, Loren.  Good luck with your book. You're in my heart and soul.  Your big sister, Fran                                                                                 

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