Those of you who read my blog may remember that I wrote about my brother Jim Sachs, who died in 2002 (see September 9, 2009). Today is his birthday, which in our adult lives we used to share with childlike relish at midnight Eastern / 9pm Pacific time, as my birthday is the day after his.
Our enormous family spent as much time as possible with Jim in the months before he died. We accompanied him on one last trip to the Adirondack mountains, where we had spent every summer of our childhood, and we frolicked together at his home in California. It was an unforgettable time.
One day during that last summer, Jim and I were sitting alone by the pool at his home in Atherton, and I read a limerick I’d written for him:
You barely were two When your family knew That you had your own way of thinking You’d play in the dirt Wearing Chris or Pat’s shirt Making toys and inventions (some stinking!)
And when you were nine I remember the time I thought you were rather deluded You concocted some stuff An object – enough To prove to me what you’d concluded.
You explained it to me With great patience and glee: The widgets ’n’ stuff (on the side) Worked together to make it With no need to fake it Add – multiply – subtract – and divide!
You went on to say In the future some day Smart people would show up to hock it. Your further conclusion: (I thought, a delusion) We would each carry one in our pocket!
At twelve you were solving The problems revolving Thru Dartmouth’s math classes each week. And word got around That the kid from the town Was the true and original geek.
Now I was much older Clearly wiser and bolder (The Dartmouth men were all mine) But YOU had the gall To break down the wall Into Dartmouth’s mainframe! (So fine.)
Your room in our cellar You (solo) the dweller Had carpeted walls plus a lab To produce your photography Math and geography Your Life – As You Saw It – Way Fab!
As we all got older (Less wiser, less bolder) You seemed to take off in a spin. Your toys and inventions Broke all known conventions: Apple’s Mouse, Laser Tag, Ted Ruxpin.
And now I see YOU With your life partner Sue And Jessica, Betsy and Chris: You’ve taught us to squeeze With such joy and such ease Each minute with its unique bliss.
And so with this ditty Altho itty-bitty I’m striving to thank you and say That you’ll be in my heart And each memory part For the rest of my life, every day.
Neither of us could speak for a while. Then Jim, to me, oh-so-quietly: “Vigor and smarts in ALL of my parts?” (Pause) “Like that.”
We sat silently by the pool for a long time.
Sometimes there are no words.