Remembering Charlie

Today we bury my oldest brother. There are so many questions on why this happened and how could it have been prevented? Were there any warning signs, and did we all miss them? But all of those answers just inform those of us who are left to perhaps live the rest of our days smarter and wiser. And what is going to happen now? What about all the unfinished business? How do we continue on without him? 

The thing that I like most about funerals — okay, I am odd I know, but hear me out — because at funerals you often learn what is best about the person who has died. We all have faults and make big mistakes, but many times we do things great, and people love us for it, and it unfortunately goes unsung until after death. That’s when it comes out, that’s when it is not embarrassing to talk about, that’s when the best of us is revealed. And in hearing the best, we are able to learn, take some pointers, and incorporate the best from others into our own lives. We can let others live on through us.

So here’s what I love about my big brother, Charlie. He was cool, from the time that I knew him, he was the leader of the pack. He listened to rock music really loudly. He drove cars fast, yet under control. He could put electronics together so that his car had a killer stereo system. He could also string electronics together to make a killer haunted house, complete with talking skeletons with lighted up eyes.

He loved to party and have a great time, especially in college…after college, after college, after college! He was legendary in the fraternity — for better or worse he lived that college life to the fullest. I always joke that after some college fraternity pranks, he would call my mom in the middle of the night saying “Hey Mom, it’s Charlie, can you come pick me up? I’m in jail…”

He loved to have fun and live to the extreme. Whether it was having the biggest tv for watching games, or was building the field of dreams sized baseball field in his backyard. That last extreme got him in trouble with the city, but what the heck, it was totally cool and fun. Whether it was coaching baseball, riding jet skis, or driving trucks, his brand of extreme was fun.

I went to SMU in Dallas because of Charlie, who told me to check out the school that was considered the “USC of the South.” I am really glad I did.

There was a time when he wanted to open a yogurt shop, and I think it should have been a TCBY, which for him stands for “Take Care of Business oh Yeah!” How many times have we all heard Charlie say: “I’ll take care of it!” And he would. And he did. It was comforting to be with a rock of a guy, who meant and did what he said. And if you asked him a question, more often than not he would start off his answer with “You know what you should do…” He was always ready and willing to take control.

I think we should start a new expression in honor of him. When I want to take charge of something completely, I need a “Take Charge like Charlie”, or “Do it like Charlie” or maybe just “Char it.”

Charlie, I love you, and I will miss you, but I will never forget you. I will always take charge of whatever it is just like you would. I am now going to channel my inner “Charlie in Charge.”

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