My big brother Mark comes to me in songs, and today would have been his 60th birthday. If I have the radio on, Clannad’s “Harry’s Theme” will spontaneously come on when I think of him.
He was brilliant and beautiful. If it wasn’t for my brother Mark, I would not be who I am today. As the eldest of all of us, and because of who he was, he exposed his younger brothers and sister to unconventional ideas and culture. He was so intelligent, artistic and interested in things outside of convention, that he opened our minds to it as well.
He was a voracious reader of history, science, metaphysics, paranormal and science fiction. He was a Trekkie. I remember going into his room as a child and reading the books and magazines he had laying around. He influenced my tastes in music, the arts, science, science fiction and my love of Star Trek. Because I was his little sister, he had an impact on opening my mind to exploring the unseen worlds within our Universe, to being spiritual but not religious.
Mark was smart, had a very high IQ and he was funny. He had a laugh that made you laugh. He was extremely talented in anything that was creative, such as art and cooking, but he really excelled at music. He was considered one of the best lead guitarists in New Jersey back in the 1970’s. He was the coolest guy in the room. As a young man, he was the prettiest of us all, but he never thought much of himself, and that was his Achilles heel.
He was a sensitive heart. One of my last memories of him, in the summer that he died unexpectedly, was his raising and planting tomato plants. He planted so many seeds that he had way too many of them. He was trying to find homes for the seedlings. Good homes. He told me because they were living things that he raised up from seeds, he didn’t have the heart to just let them die or be thrown away. He said it was like giving away puppies. I took about ten off of his hands not because I had the room for them, but because I understood what he was feeling.
He was a great dancer. One of my favorite memories was of us dancing together at a club, back in the 1980’s. It was the only time in my life I ever went out with him. David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” came on and being huge fans, we took to the floor. He was such a great dancer that at one point, I looked up and saw that we cleared the dance floor and people stood in a circle around us. To this day, when that Bowie song comes on, I think of that moment with my brother.
Mark struggled so much with being a sensitive soul in this world and due to a tragic accident that disabled him, he was prone to depression and addiction. His issues and the dysfunction that surrounded them caused me to distance myself from him, to put up a barrier to my heart. As many family members of addicts can attest, it’s something you do to protect yourself. Towards the end of his life, he was on an upswing. He was reading Gregg Braden’s books and it fired him up. He was hopeful about changing his life and starting fresh. He wanted to talk about the concepts in the book and knew I would be someone who would understand. He would call to talk, or ask me to hang out with him. One of my saddest memories, was of him standing on the porch of my parents house, asking me to stay and talk to him. As I left he called out to me “Why don’t you stick around for a little while? We never talk. I really want to spend time with you and talk.” But instead, I got in my car and drove home, and that was the last time I saw him, to my deepest regret.
All that I can do well, he could do better. Guitarist, musician, artist, gardener, chef, actor, dancer. He wrote songs and sang them. He wanted to boldly go where no man had gone before. He was willing and able to see in our world and those worlds beyond us that others could not.
So today, I think of my brother, Mark. Sometimes those whose blood runs thick with Celtic heritage are brilliant, poetic, charismatic. Gifted but complicated. Some brilliant lights burn out far too soon.
He was a true son of Eire.
I will go wherever he came from – The young man with his reputation behind him.”
Lyrics from “Harry’s Game”