04/23/2004: "Death and Spain"
I meant to write from Spain
where I was from March 28 until April 7th,
but the morning after I returned to Berlin
before I even had a chance to think about transcribing my journals
I received an e mail from my youngest brother, Bill.
My older brother Greg was only expected to live for a few days.
I flew to Minnesota within hours
and have been with Greg and his wife Randi
every day for two weeks.
Greg died the night before last.
His funeral will be tomorrow.
This is what I plan to say:
I am Patrick Scully.
Greg was my big brother,
my only big brother.
When he sent me an e mail
saying he had personal news
he wanted to share with me,
I dreaded the news.
I was in Brazil with my partner Mauricio.
I walked around the streets of Rio
waiting for Greg to get home from work so I could call.
We had just buried our dad
and four years before that our mom.
I was angry, scared and sad.
It was too soon to have to deal with the mortality of our generation.
But these are not the things we get to decide.
As Greg told me
"I was walking along the path of my life
minding my own business,
and this figure popped up in front of me.
It was the grim reaper.
He looked me in the eye and asked,
"Are you Greg Scully?"
and in that moment I first faced my own mortality."
I did not choose to be the senior member of this family,
but here I am, at 50, the patriarch.
Maybe it was prophetic
to be named Patrick.
In this role today, I am going to be the master of ceremonies.
We want to celebrate Greg's life,
and our memories of Greg,
at this memorial service.
We are going to do this by sharing our stories.
We will laugh and cry our way through this
with stories of Greg's life and times.
All kinds of times,
times when we were happy together,
times when we were sad together,
times when we were angry together,
and times when we were afraid together.
Greg was my big brother,
and as the big brother,
he got to do things first.
I got to learn from him.
Greg was not quite a year and a half older than me.
I had to learn quickly to not lose my place
since my brother Jeff was just a year a week and a day behind me.
Greg was walking when I was born,
As I learned to walk
he started really talking.
He rode a bike first,
he went to kindergarten at St. Rose of Lima first,
when I went to kindergarten
he crossed County Road B with me
on his way to first grade at St Rose.
He made First Communion first.
He played football first.
He went to high school first
he got metal skis first
and ski boots that buckled first.
He went skiing in the Rockies first.
In all of these incremental steps of life,
I had Greg there, always doing it first,
and letting me know it was possible.
In those rare moments when I shared my doubts or fears with him
he reassured me that I would be ok.
By Greg's example I learned not to do some things.
Greg came home after a night out with Jim Thompson,
some other friends and a lot of alcohol,
they were all 17.
Greg was a pale green
as he embraced the porcelain goddess.
Then next morning he told me what I great time he had had the night before.
I told Greg this last week, that he taught me that night to not drink to excess.
Remembering back he said, "I was miserable that night."
Greg taught me I did not need to build my own hang glider,
and I did not need to crash it into the woods.
He went some places that I did not need to go
and Greg went some places where I wanted to go.
I have saved for last the really important things I learned from Greg;
where, later in life, I followed his example.
It is ok to fall in love with someone who lives thousands of miles away.
It is good to move thousands of miles to be with the person you love.
Getting married at 40 is the right time.
One should become kinder and more compassionate with age.
It is hard to be far away from family when they are dying.
In tough times, gather your family and friends close around you.
It's ok to move back home.
It's ok to wear glasses.
I will fly to Berlin on Sunday, and move back here to stay
on Monday May 3rd.
I can be reached here in the next few days at 651 2610709.