This weekend, I go to see my brother laid to rest. Jim, James Weldon Hall, Jr., Jimbo, Papa James. We called him lot’s of names.
Jim was my oldest brother, almost twenty years my senior. That made him different from an ordinary brother. His seniority carried more authority for me, like a mix between a brother and an uncle. Jim portrayed the best of both.
His kids were my age, so growing up, we all experienced his humor and pranks, his crankiness and even anger from knee-high on up. I never knew him when he was kid. He was always an adult, a father and a leader. Jim filled the role my Dad left when he passed, for the whole family.
So, the hole he leaves is large. The sorrow I feel, I’ve never known.
Even when my Mom passed-away a year ago, it didn’t affect me this way. Of course, at 101 and more than a decade since her stroke, it was something I was prepared for.
Jim’s fight with cancer was always going to end this way. No illusions about that. Except for Jim, he never allowed himself to believe it. My faith in him and what he believed, I think, made the expected seem a surprise.
Part of my sorrow is for those who never had a Jim in their life. Anyone who knew him knows exactly what I mean. All his family and friends knew him in a uniquely connected way, because he was always there for them. For those who have never had someone there for them, it must be hard.
I’ve been fortunate, so this wake at the Ranch will celebrate him for all the love he had for us. All the time he spent with us. All the things he showed us. About how to be generous and have a sense of humor. How to be responsible, yet still have a barrel of fun. How to be caring, but never overbearing.
We’ll have a few beers and cigars, and wish him on his way. No one can change the way it is. We can only miss him.
He was Pa at the Ponderosa, Shackleton on the Weddell Sea, the Marine, the man at the helm, the friend we looked up to, and the leader of our pack.
Anyone who had the fortune and misfortune of a trek in the desert at night with Jim knows, he loved adventure. He liked taking people out of their boxes and seeing them challenged – stuck in sand, or high centered on a rock – and it gave us a taste of what a life lived is all about. Because he was always there to get us out.
His ashes will be blown across the desert in a place he once roared in a dune buggy. A place he loved, where adventure, fun and family, love and caring, and a machine to tinker with were the only things that mattered.
Peace, love and caring. Family, friends and caring. These are the only things of true meaning. What the hell is wrong with our world? Not enough Jim’s, that’s what.
Adios Bro, with all my love.