Sorry I’ve been away. We are mourning the loss of Unnamed Partner’s younger brother, who died last week after an extremely brave battle with pancreatic cancer. Although he hadn’t felt up to commenting recently, longtime readers will remember his comments as “Scepter66.” In fact, he was one of the first regular readers of this blog when I began writing just a year ago — about the same time he received his awful diagnosis. He was my blogging buddy, and deserving of a special tribute here. This has been a tough post to write.
“Scepter66,” known to family and friends as John, was a self-described Independent, and he was always up for a discussion on politics. In fact, at family gatherings the first thing he often said to me was “I really liked that post you wrote on ….” He held his own beliefs so strongly and passionately, but was always ready to hear another view on any issue. And in the early days when I didn’t know who was reading this blog, he was often the reader I pictured in my mind as I wrote. That really meant a lot to me and I always told him how much I appreciated him and the other … maybe 3 readers I had at the beginning.
And speaking of family gatherings, when Unnamed Partner brought me home for the first time 10 years ago, John welcomed me with open arms, as did the rest of the family. He was open-minded, non judgemental, and always striving to learn more and be a better person. I have gotten to know his wife and his three wonderful daughters over these years, and I’ve seen these girls grow up into incredibly strong and smart young women. Yesterday as I sat with his mother at the Funeral Home, she remembered how John and his then-high school sweetheart, eventually his wife, became pregnant when they were just out of high school. She said John wanted to marry her right away — “He always wanted to do what was right,” she said. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind and what a wonderful way for your mother to remember you.
John was an excellent writer, and always left great comments here. The thoughtful kind that I personally always have a hard time leaving at blogs myself. He also dabbled with keeping his own blog to express his feelings about the battle he was going through, although I think felt a little self-conscious about being too revealing of his emotions in front of the strangers of the blogosphere. The quote in the title is from his blogger profile. You can get an idea of what kind of man he was by reading from the last post on his blog, Colonial Vulcan, where he quotes Ben Franklin:
“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.”
And I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that John was a regular writer at a local blog that we started in our neighborhood, Harford Road, Hon. In fact, he was our regular roving reporter, with posts such as his photo journey down Harford Road on New Year’s Eve. He also was a great advocate for the local restaurants in the neighborhood, and kept a keen eye on openings and closings. “Harford Road Hon” has not been the same without John, and again, I always felt he was my reader whenever I posted there. I will miss writing something funny and imagining his laugh when he read it.
It often seems cliche to say someone fought a “brave battle” with cancer — that is, until you see someone wage that battle. When you see the terrible toll that this disease takes on the body, you wonder at how anyone could be strong enough to cope. But John fought hard and strong, keeping his dignity and compassion for others throughout his ordeal. Even when it became obvious that the experimental treatment he was undergoing was not helping, he insisted on continuing, because it might help someone else down the road. I can only hope that if faced with this type of personal challenge, I would be half as strong as John was in facing it head-on.
I know I’ll always think of John reading my words whenever I post something here. Just this morning I listened to the radio on my drive in and heard about the latest debacle of the strange strained relationship of Obama and Wright. And I immediately remembered a post I wrote in the fall about the “craptacular” choice of candidates we have this year. John loved that description and we laughed about it together last Thanksgiving. I have no doubt that John is still watching the political season. But I imagine him now with an enlightened wisdom looking down at us, shaking his head at the ridiculousness of politics and saying “People! Just try to do what’s right.”