Squirl's Nest

Thursday, October 20, 2005

And then there were four

Most of you are familiar with my family, including Bucky, Tardist, and Timmy (who has no blog of his own). There is one other sibling who’s not been in the talk here in blogland. He’s our older brother, JD.

JD was the eldest of the five of us. He willingly and graciously welcomed me, Tardist, Timmy, and Bucky into the family with no jealousy or rivalry. There was an age gap of almost 3 ½ years between him and me. Because of this he was always just a bit removed from the rest of our rowdy, Irish bunch.

JD Communion

There is musical and artistic talent running through our family. But, hands down, we all agree that JD had the most musical talent. He started piano lessons in second grade. By sixth grade he was learning to play the huge pipe organ at church. When he was eleven he got his first electric guitar.

Soon after, he started a rock group called the Rockets. He played lead guitar, one of his buddies played rhythm guitar, and another played drums. Their music was mostly Beach Boys and Beatles. And they were good.

Moving to Michigan at age 14 was hard for him because he had to leave his band behind. Before moving he had been in his high school band playing saxophone. This was one way could find a connection over that long-distance move.

JD Grad pic

He also discovered sports. He was a good athlete. Football and track were his main sports through high school. In his senior year he even joined the baseball team. As his younger, male siblings got older he started let them join him in the neighborhood sports he’d play.

I suppose because of practical reasons, he got a business degree in college. But before long he was working in bands again. Not long after college he moved to Texas for his music. But eventually he wound up in San Francisco.


He had an apartment in a building that was probably, originally, a single-family home. He had the upstairs apartment and the garage/basement. The garage/basement was where his computerized keyboard equipment was. He continued writing and recording songs (an audioblog of one of his songs is included at the end of this post), but made his living from composing and recording music that was background for videos, commercials, and movies.

JD was occasionally doing some gigs during that time period. In fact, he was playing a New Year’s party, almost twelve years ago, when all the feeling went out of his legs and he collapsed.

We received the call the next day that he’d gone to the hospital and they found out that he had cancer. He started receiving chemo and had a rough time of it for a while. Four and a half years later Ichabod and I went over to visit him. Because of the placement of the tumor he still had trouble controlling his legs. He described his walk as looking like he was drunk.


He kept fighting it and the cancer finally went into remission. We were all so thrilled. Then one Christmas Kathy, the stepmother of his downstairs neighbor, came to visit her. Kathy and JD ended up talking all night long. They were so compatible in so many ways. One thing they had in common was that he’d battled cancer and she had very bad lung disease. She lived in Iowa and the phone bills were getting ridiculous. They decided to marry soon and on May 1st, in San Francisco, they got married. He actually moved from San Francisco to her home in Iowa. We knew it had to be love. Well, you couldn’t miss it. The honeymoon never ended for them.

Life was good until JD’s cancer came back again. He was already into health foods and alternative health methods. He tried a lot of things before agreeing to chemotherapy again.

A bone marrow transplant was going to be his cure. No one in our family was compatible to donate but there was someone on the registry list who was a perfect match. The bone marrow procedure was supposed to happen the end of October 2003.

But something went wrong in September. His legs and arms started to swell. JD had already gone from being a big, muscular, athletic guy to very, very slim because of the cancer. When he began to swell like that it showed right away. The doctors weren’t able to reverse it.

On October 20th, 2003, he was lying in the hospital, sick and in great pain. He seemed to be holding on. He wasn’t letting go. When Kathy, reluctantly but lovingly, told him it was okay, he went. Two months before his 51st birthday he left the pain and this life behind. And our love still goes out to him.

We miss him.

Make Believe - composed, arranged, and performed by JD, circa early 1980s.


Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

My mom has been in remission now for years and years. The reports come back clean and we all breathe easier, but I don't think any of us breathe the same. There's always a little hesitation and I just try and avoid the subject. It's not that I don't care or don't have the words, but nothing seems fitting.

I think these words are very fitting and if my family were able to scrape together a tenth of this sentiment when I go, I'd say that's pretty damn good.

Well done Squirl. You, Bucky, Tardist and Timmy don't have to play make believe, you have a great family. A part of which is looking down, very proud.

Thu Oct 20, 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Mr B, I hope your mother continues to be well. Thank you.

Thu Oct 20, 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Susie said...

So many thoughts. Amazing how much talent landed in your family. I felt empathy for JD, moving at age 14. I moved during freshman year of H.S., and it's HARD. He seems to have come through it well, and made a life in his new home. I guess that's what I think he's done now, too, made a really good, painfree, musical life in a new home. I can't help but think of how tickled he is that you're playing his music for new listeners.

Squirl, you did JD proud here. Thank you (you and your sibs, because I know it was a committee decision) for sharing JD with us.

Thu Oct 20, 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Nicely done, sis.

Thu Oct 20, 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Susie, he was devastated that he had to move. But you're right. He turned it right around and not only adjusted, but was quite popular in his new school. I never minded being known as "Oh, you're JD's little sister."

I like what you say about his life in his new home. I'm sure the music follows him where ever he goes. I bet he does love getting his music shared with a new group of listeners. These are people with whom I've come to feel very close.

We're quite proud to share him with everyone. Thnak you for your words.

Thu Oct 20, 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Bucky, thank you. And thanks for your helping making the music happen.

Thu Oct 20, 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger Effie said...

Oh my--Squirl--~crying~--thank you for sharing with us about your brother!


Thu Oct 20, 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Oh, Effie, I'm sorry I made you cry. We felt that there was no better time than today to share our story. Thanks for sharing with us.

Thu Oct 20, 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Kitty said...

I'm with Mr B. on this one - If anyone has an iota of this kind of love for me, I would be a very proud Kitty.

Great post Squirly. Much love to you and yours :).

Thu Oct 20, 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Thank you so much, Kitty.

Thu Oct 20, 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Circus Kelli said...

This is such a lovely story about your brother. I'm so sorry he lost his fight with cancer.

Hugs and good thoughts to your whole family today, Squirl.

Thu Oct 20, 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Thank you, CK, we appreciate all the good thoughts and hugs.

Thu Oct 20, 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Danielle said...

Oh, that made me get all teary. It was just so beautiful, and sad.

I think I'll come back and listen to his music later. I kind of want to re-group first. I say this, because I don't want you to mis-interpret my lack of commenting on it.

My heart goes out to all of you.

Thu Oct 20, 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Danielle, thank you. It's appreciated. If you get a chance to listen to the music let me know what you think.

Thu Oct 20, 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous dazed and confuzed said...

Squirl & Family - thank you for sharing that with us, I'm sure it wasn't easy. JD has an amazing family - his immortality is assured with siblings like you. It's absolutely the right thing to do to honor him as publicly as you can. Does he know? I'm sure he does.

Thu Oct 20, 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Dazed and Confuzed, thank you for stopping and commenting. I think he does know, and that he approves.

Thu Oct 20, 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger mrtl said...

What a beautiful tribute. You must miss him terribly. He sounds like a great guy.

Thu Oct 20, 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Mrtl, thank you. We do miss him and he was a great guy.

Thu Oct 20, 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous sheryl said...

I'm sad to hear that you lost your brother... and also I feel very touched to see the love you all still have for him.

Thu Oct 20, 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger whfropera said...

just think - he's probably composed a welcome march for each and every one of you...not that anyone wants any of you folks to leave us, but when the time comes, I just betcha he's wailin' out the tuneage.
Hang in there, all - I know its gotta be a rough day.

Thu Oct 20, 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Hi,Sheryl, thank you very much.

OperaGal, thank you. You may be right. Music will always be his thing, as it really is with all of us.

Thu Oct 20, 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Danielle said...

Squirlly dearie,

I came back to listen over lunch. And overall, the song just really made me smile.

First it made me think back to the 80's and all of the culture that went with it, being young and happy, the hair, the clothes, the roller-skating.

Then as the song continued, I started recognizing that there was a lot going on instrumentally in that song, and changes in tone to keep it interesting. And how much talent it takes to compose, arrange, play, and sing all of that.

He really was talented.

I'm glad you and Bucky shared that.

Thank you. :)

Thu Oct 20, 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Danielle, what a wonderful critique. I enjoyed reading about, seeing it from your perspective. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Thu Oct 20, 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

So very blessed with talent as well as being blessed to be a member of your family. It is wonderful that JD found the love of his life . . .
A very moving & beautiful tribute, one that shows much love. I am certain JD knows about this ovation today. I for one am standing.
Thoughts of you, Bucky and your family.

Thu Oct 20, 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

I really wish I knew what song that duo at the piano are banging out. I *really* want it to be the theme from "All in the Family."

"....those were the daaaaayayyayaayyyyys!"


Thu Oct 20, 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Nanina, thank you. I wrote this and the first few times I read it I cried. But I smiled too. I know he's not here physically, but I feel that no one is ever truly gone. And his music is one physical way to keep in touch with him until we meet again.

Mr B, would it really burst your bubble if I told you they were probably playing March Militare?

Thu Oct 20, 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Tardist said...

Very nice, Squirl. Thank you. And Bucky for helping with the audio post.
And thank you to all who read his story here.

Thu Oct 20, 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Tardist, you're welcome. And I say the same to everyone who's been here and shared this with us.

Thank you!

Thu Oct 20, 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Are you sure? They have such nice smiles on and all.

Forgive my silliness, I always liked that show and that photo reminds me of the intro.

Thu Oct 20, 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

That was beautiful!! I'll bet your brother is just as proud of all of you right now.

Thu Oct 20, 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger eclectic said...

Wow. Of all the days to be tied up away from the computer....! I didn't get in on the concert of great 80s music until the day's half over!! That's a great driving song -- I want to keep it in the car.

Having lost my dad last year, I know the ache and empty spot. But I think a sibling must hit even closer to home. Parents have a whole life as individuals before children, but siblings share an entire lifetime. I'm sorry you have to miss him, but you absolutely have created a wonderful tribute to him.

My dad plays a mean clarinet. Maybe JD would know of a little jazz ensemble that Dad could join....

Thu Oct 20, 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Squirl said...

That's okay, Mr B, I'm sure neither one would mind your thinking that.

tshsmom, thank you!

Eclectic, I knew you'd make it here eventually. :-) I'm glad you like his song. You're so right about the empty spot. It had to be really hard on my mother. It's never right when your children go before you do.

And there's gotta be a good jazz band there somewhere. Maybe he's already directed him there.

Thu Oct 20, 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger SierraBella said...

I almost didn't go blogging today, and I'm so glad I did.

This is one lovely story you've written, quite a tribute.

My speakers aren't working, and I oh so wanted to hear this!

My heart goes out to you, the sibs and everyone in your family today.

Thu Oct 20, 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Sierrabella, I'm glad you came by today, too. Sorry you can't hear the song. And thank you.

Thu Oct 20, 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Kitty said...

I'm sorry SB can't hear it too. It's too fun. I'm glad I waited until I got home to enjoy it!

Thu Oct 20, 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Kitty, I'm glad you enjoyed the song.

Thu Oct 20, 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

You guys are such a musical family. I enjoyed the song a lot. Thanks for sharing it. His death is very recent and I am sure it is still very hard. Hugs to you all.

Thu Oct 20, 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger judypatooote said...

What a wonderful tribute to your brother....he was so handsome and talented....it is very hard to loose a young person....I lost my husband when he was 56...thats to young to die, and then this last march I lost my 17 year old granddaughter to cancer....I think of her up in heaven as she was here on earth....She use to have a schedule for every day when she was around 10 as to how she would wear her hair that day....lol...and when she lost all her hair from chemo, she didn't let that bother her, she wrapped her head, until she got a wig....funny all her friends came over with there heads wrapped too...Ali was a very high spirited young lady....and I like to think of her gathered around your brother singing. Of course I didn't know your brother, but he sounded like someone I would like Ali to be around.... thanks for sharing this, and his music with us....

Thu Oct 20, 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Nilbo said...

A friend of mine who'd lost a child said "If God had told me I could have this wonderful gift, but that I'd have to give her back sooner than I wanted, I'd have jumped at that deal in a heartbeat."

Dying isn't remarkable - we all do it. What IS remarkable is how we choose to live and the joy we can bring to those around us just by the simple act of being ourselves.

I'm happy for you that you had such a wonderful gift for so long. I know how much it hurts - even years later - to give a gift like that back. So I hurt a little for all of you, too.

Thu Oct 20, 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Kranki, I'm glad you stopped by and that you enjoyed his music. I know you're such a music lover. Thanks!

Judy, thank you for stopping by. I'm so sorry for you for your losses. Your husband's death would have been hard enough, but, a 17 year old granddaughter. I can't even imagine. My heart goes out to you. I'm glad you have such wonderful memories of her. It's like Nilbo says, in his comment. you have to give that wonderful gift back. Thank you for sharing in our memories here.

Nilbo, that's such a great way to look at it. Rather than a loss, it was a gift for a certain amount of time. Our lives would have been totally different without him in it, for whatever length of time. Thank you.

Thu Oct 20, 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

Nilbo, I'll be quoting you for years on that comment!

Thu Oct 20, 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Zombie_Flyboy said...

I'm sorry about you and your family's loss. He sounds like he was a great guy.

Thu Oct 20, 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger eclectic said...

Just checking back in with you tonight, Squirly. You guys have been in my thoughts all afternoon.

These anniversaries are like no-man's land. It's this para-normal time warp where all the pain of loss hits you squarely in the face again, but it didn't just happen, so nobody cuts you a break this time. It warms my heart to see the closeness remaining between you sib.s, and the fondness with which you remember and include JD. And I just wanted to say I'm thinking of you.

Thu Oct 20, 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger Closet Metro said...

Very sorry for your loss.

Thu Oct 20, 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger August95 said...

Sorry I got here so late. What a wonderful tribute to your brother. He was very talented. Thanks for posting his song.

Fri Oct 21, 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

I wanted to throw my handful of change in here and say thanks to everyone who's stopped in with kind words.

Fri Oct 21, 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

tshsmom, I will too.

ZB, thank you. He was.

Eclectic, thank you for checking back. You're so right. Even if you're still grieving people don't cut you any slack because it's been so long they think you should be "over it". I appreciate your thoughts.

CM, thank you for stopping by.

August, thank you. And I'm so glad you liked his song.

Bucky, I'm with you.

Everybody thank you so much for stopping by and sharing this with us!

Fri Oct 21, 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger LadyBug said...

Oh, Squirl, what a beautiful tribute to your brother. I'm sorry I wasn't around yesterday.

Much love and many hugs to you, hon.

Fri Oct 21, 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Ladybug, thank you. I knew you'd be around sooner or later. :-)

Fri Oct 21, 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Platypus said...

That was a beautiful post, Squirl. Hugs to all of you during what's been a horrible month for you all. x

Sat Oct 21, 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Thank you, Platypus. I do appreciate it.

Sat Oct 21, 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Susie said...

Oh, Squirl. I read this again, and it's hard to stop crying now. "ugly crying," as Oprah calls it. Sobbing. I know more about loss than I did when I read it a year ago. I know more about being thankful for every day we have with loved ones, too. JD sounds even better than he did last year, somehow. Probably because your mom's there. I know that sounds insane, but it's me, what do you expect? ;)

Sun Oct 22, 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

Susie, I'm sorry it made you cry so hard. I can only hope that the tears are cleansing ones. I know that this post was a tear-jerker for me as I wrote it. Maybe even more so, now, as I re-read right after the loss of mother. Funny how our perspective changes as we experience more pain and loss. That is all part of the human experience, though. Hard lessons, but we have to learn.

Thanks for coming back for another read. I'm sure there's more music in ethers with both my mom and brother out there.

And you're insane the same way that I am. Again, we're sisters, I'm tellin' ya. :)

Sun Oct 22, 10:39:00 AM  

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