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orange and gold

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reaching for the sun

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old city cemetery

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lavender near sunset

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me, Keith and Donald, late 1970s

I was looking for the flash fiction story, The Blackest Sheep, that I wrote almost eighteen years ago. It was published in a small online zine and I think I made $5 for it as part of a writing contest. The zine doesn’t exist anymore and the only hard copy I have of the story is in a box at the bottom of a lot of other boxes. In short, it was a story based on truth of a black sheep of the family who, justifiably so, could be judged for all of the bad things he’d done and would likely do … and yet there was so much good that was there too. I wrote the story out of a sense that so many people might never know or remember that goodness once he was gone. And so through the lens of fiction I recounted how my older brother taught me how to bare my fist so that no one would pick on me (or at least never do it again), how, even though I was the “smart one” in the family, he patiently helped me make my way through homework or at least convinced me to keep my behind in the chair and finish what I needed to do.

William and Donald, late 1960s (maybe)

My favorite remembrance was how he, when asked by my mom, to walk my younger brother and I to school in the snow, he had us walk with our backs to the wind so that we would be shielded as he led us forward. And later in life, long after I’d written that story, he still did good things. He would come across archaic tomes of English literature left behind in a rooming house and keep it for me. Knowing my interest in photography, he would find frames at the flea market and other places and keep them for me. Keep in mind he was in Virginia and I am in Massachusetts. I did collect the books and the frames when I visited. He always called on my birthday and every holiday. As his body failed on him, he loved to just sit and watch the cooking channel … he had loved to cook especially for large groups of people … even though he could no longer eat most of what was being prepared. He found great childlike joy in little things. He was quick to laugh … and he could be quick to anger (especially when drinking too much) and quick to feel depressed because eventually even he could look back and see the different forks in the road of his life and the paths taken that perhaps should not have been.

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My brother Donald died just a few days ago with our oldest brother William by his side. He leaves no children but he leaves many friends and family behind who loved him and cherish the memories of his smile and laughter.  It is near incomprehensible to think of him and our youngest brother Keith passing away so closely together. For better and for worse, they tried to look out for each other, and I guess that is all that any of us can do.

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Donald and Keith in later years

P.S. Several years ago, while pondering what more to do, I wrote the following post called tea. The unnamed soul of the drama was Donald. https://wordsandimagesbycynthia.com/2015/08/18/tea/

the glass in sunlight

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