Early in the morning on Friday, March 27 2015, my brother Gary passed away after a long fight with cancer.
He fought for two years against a cancer that only gave him a few months to live, time after time proving doctors and everybody wrong and hanging on for just a little longer. He was an awesome inspiration throughout his entire fight.
In his time here, he married an amazing wife while I was still in high school, gained an amazing daughter, and had an awesome son. He may have only had 41 years here, but he made it count.
He was an awesome older brother. When I was in first grade, he walked me to and from school everyday. When I was in fifth grade, he picked me up from school when I had after school stuff I had to do. And all the way until I got my license, and even after, he would drive me to see movies, ALL THE TIME.
Gary always had awesome friends growing up, but he was always one that loved what he loved. He loved movies, even though his friends weren’t really into them the same way he was. That never stopped him though, as he was always more than happy to make the 30+ minute drive to go to the nearest movie theater that was playing the newest releases, often by himself. Eventually, he realized he was going anyways, so he may as well take me with him and let me tag along.
Movies are a HUGE part of my life now, and always have been. I absolutely love movies, and it’s still my lifelong dream to get one made. All of that came from Gary. While babysitting me when I was younger, all we did was watch movies. But never Disney movies, or kids’ movies. We always watched what he wanted to watch, which was awesome. That’s why I saw and fell in love with Gremlins when I was 5 years old. That’s why I saw Maniac Cop the week it released on VHS. He never filtered anything for me, and I was always grateful for that.
I’ve said it many times, and I will say it forever, my love of movies would not be nearly as strong as it is if it weren’t for my brother Gary. He gave me a lot of memories and great things throughout our lives, but my passion and love for movies is one of his greatest gifts to me.
It’s been over a week since he passed before I’ve felt like I could even really talk about it, and now that I’m letting it sink in a little bit, I could go on and on about how sad I am and how much it hurts, but I know Gary wouldn’t want to read that. So instead, I want to celebrate him.
To do that, here are MY FIVE FAVORITE MOVIE MEMORIES I HAD WITH MY BROTHER GARY
This was the last movie I was able to watch with my brother. I bought the DVD while visiting so he and his son, Nick, could watch it. I was lucky enough to enjoy it with them. As much as I credit my love of movies to Gary, I also owe him greatly for my extreme love of Batman. Watching this movie with him, his son, and my kids, including Talia and Grayson, whose names come from characters that each make an appearance in this movie, was something special and something I’ll never forget. I wish I’d have gotten to watch more movies with him and his family, but I’m insanely grateful for the ones that I did.
One thing Gary always loved that I never got too into, were martial arts movies. He loved Bruce Lee, and we were going to movies all the time when Van Damme, Seagal, Speakman, and the likes were all over the box office. I was never into them, but went along just because it was cool to see how much Gary loved them.
Whenever we’d go visit my grandparents for longer than a few days, my Aunt Laura, who is also largely responsible for my love of movies growing up, and who I sadly lost to her fight with cancer just a few days before Gary, would always take us to the video store on our first day there to get movies to watch during our stay. She’d always let each of us pick out two or three movies. And she’d always get so annoyed by us, because no matter how many movies she’d let us pick, Gary would always pick Enter the Dragon and I’d always pick Gremlins. Every. Time. And no matter how many movies we rented, we would watch each of those movies at least once a day. We enjoyed them that much. My Aunt Laura was so tired of those movies, but we always loved them.
A big part of Gary and I’s movie going experiences were double features. Occasionally we’d be able to talk Aunt Laura into taking us to two movies in the same day, and this was one of the combos I got to enjoy with both of them. Gary would always pick the movies, and he did an awesome job. Top Gun and Labyrinth are both awesome movies and were amazing movie going experiences, and I got to see them both in one day thanks to them. I was able to have a lot of awesome double feature days, but this one has always stood out.
If you ever met Gary, you knew he loved Star Wars. Growing up, Star Wars was such a gigantic part of my childhood. Mostly because of Gary’s love for it. We had all the toys, watched all the movies weekly, and bought anything Star Wars we could. I have a lot of great Star Wars memories involving Gary. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t into the prequel trilogy as much. Maybe I needed Gary to make me appreciate it as much as I should have. Or maybe they just weren’t as good. Regardless, I’ll be there opening day for the next trilogy, and the whole time I’ll be wishing Gary were able to be right there next to me.
Maybe this is a silly movie to be at number one, but if you’ve ever heard me talk about movies, you’ve more than likely heard my Point Break story. When we would do double features, Gary would often go out into the lobby while I waited in the theater for the second movie that we had just sneaked into. He always said it was just to get refills, but I’m pretty sure he would always go out and buy tickets for the second movie. He was that kind of great guy. He loved movies, and had no problem making sure he was paying for the ones we were enjoying, even if we could have easily gotten away with seeing the second one for free. After we watched Point Break for the first time, I was blown away. To this day, I have no idea why I love this movie so much, but I do. No joking, no irony, I legit love this movie so much. After it ended, Gary asked me what movie I wanted to see next, and I simply said, “This. I want to watch this again.” He smiled, didn’t argue, and went out to get us refills and sat through this ridiculous movie a second time in a row just to make me happy.
The week he passed away was far and away the roughest week of my life. I lost my Aunt Laura that Tuesday and him on Friday. All while being in the middle of a crucial point in my new job where I could not miss any time to even get away for a day. As rough as the week was, it did have a happy ending as Erin and I welcomed our fourth child, Kira, to the world that Sunday. It was the longest, hardest pregnancy of the four, and the hardest, most brutal labor and delivery. But she was worth it all.
As much as I was hoping Gary would be here long enough to at least see a picture of his newest niece, I know he was there with us throughout the whole thing. Immediately after Kira was born, our doctor found a true knot in her umbilical cord. He said she was a very blessed baby and that in the case of true knots, things can go very wrong. We were very lucky that they didn’t. I have a hard time not thinking Gary at least had a little something to do with her being a healthy, happy baby.
If you love somebody, make sure they know. If you love something with somebody, enjoy it. Never take it for granted. Make as many memories as possible, because you never know when those memories will be all you have left. And when that happens, it’s those memories that give you reason to smile, no matter how hard it gets.
I love you brother.