The Worst that Could Happen

On Saturday, Jan 30, I got a voicemail from my brother Steve. Evidently Mom had taken a turn. She had been rapidly declining since the holidays and my brothers were very good about noticing the changes and communicating to all of us. The whole family gathered at Mom's house for the weekend except me and my other long distance sibling. On Monday morning I got a call sister-in-law Louise, that Steve had in the morning of a blood clot or heat attack.

Completely shocking news. Steve was the rock of our family. Here is a copy of the remebrance I shared at his service. Steve leaves behind his wife of 30+ years, Jeanie and two beautiful grown children, Jesse and Sarah. It is a tragic loss for all of us.

For Steve
By Jocelyn 2/4/10

When I was growing up, Steve was my hero, my role model. He was so confident and smart and high energy. He could set his sights on any goal and simply make it happen. And, he was so cool. Let’s face it Steve had rock star charisma. And, I wanted to be just like him. So I had a secret (that none of you know about) … in my imagination I pretended my name was Stephanie.

I assume that when we think of Steve, confident, smart, capable, decisive come to mind. But, when I’ve thought about Steve over the past 5 or 6 years what has slowly dawned on me is how extraordinarily generous he has been to all of us.

Here are two examples that I know best:

- Over the course of my life there have been a hundred times when I’ve needed advice or help or legal counsel or a shoulder to cry on and I’ve gone to Steve. Even when I was a little kid, in second or third grade. Countless times I’ve called his office. And he was never too busy to listen to me talk through the situation, without judgment, and then give me thoughtful, relevant, sound advice. Countless times.

- Mama really loved working at the Steve’s office. It gave her purpose, a reason to get up and get dressed. There were, however, things she would not do, whether Steve needed her to or not. He might barely grouse with a little snicker of “well that’s Mama.” She worked for Steve well into her days of forgetfulness and confused math. But she got to choose when she felt ready to leave. As much as any of us have done for Mama, few gestures could match the love and compassion of that, the totality of those purposeful years, provided by Steve, since our father’s death.

Steve did all of this as a matter of course. It’s taken me a long time to realize the purity and generosity of his actions. Purity and generosity, giving without asking for something in return, giving back long after any kind of debt has been repaid … he was a very giving man.

I don’t think Steve thought of himself as generous. That’s just who he was; confident, smart, capable, decisive and generous.

So, I’m keeping my secret imaginary name, although not so secret anymore. I still want to be Stephanie.