At 5:45am Atlantic time this morning, my brother "Johnny" died with his head in his wife Lorraine's lap after she'd been holding him and comforting him throughout what the Doctors had said the previous evening would be his last night. It was quite a shock, having first heard of the return of Johnny's cancer only 3 days ago. But it turns out... that's the way he wanted it — to spend as little time in the hospital as possible, and to not have family come visit him only because he was ill. He lived life on his own terms; for the last 5 years, happily in retirement right near the Atlantic ocean in New Brunswick, Canada.
But Johnny lived in NB only during retirement. When he was a teenager — and I was "only knee high to a grass hopper", as he would always say, Johnny and our Dad built the log cabin and log boat house that you see here on the left. Shown on the right is the same "cottage" only from the back looking towards the lake, and you can see the little stone building which was our sauna on the far right. The picture of Nanci and I swimming thru the ice — after a sauna — was taken in 1969 on the same day as the one on the left because you can see the swimming hole in the ice right near the metal dock structure in the lakefront picture.
Many of my memories of family life with my big brother took place in that homestead, including the very last family celebration we had there (far right) when we celebrated Johnny's 40th and my 30th birthdays. We always enjoyed being almost exactly a decade apart;
Johnny's Dad — my Mom's first husband — was a tragic victim of WWII. In the years after Pigeon Lake we often visited Lorraine and Johnny on the Mississippi River (really!) in Southern Ontario. That's where my kids have fond memories of playing with frogs (etc.) on the beach, and we all enjoyed watching the myriad of wildlife along the river, canoeing or hiking down to Red Rocks for picnics, watching the stars with Johnny until the wee hours around campfires.
Fare thee well, big brother of mine — I will miss you dearly!!