Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Another brother to the rescue story; and this one long-gone!

GHOST OF A CHANCE: Me, my brothers Ed and Pat, in a very very old photo
My oldest brother Pat died far too young, almost 30 years ago. He lived in Toronto, in the same west-end neighbourhood in which I and my new wife Helena began our marriage adventure. In fact Pat passed away around the time we bought our first house.

I'm the youngest of 10; he is the oldest. IQ-wise, Pat might have outscored the rest of us, and he was a huge reader. Had Pat lived, he would have devoured every word I've written: every paragraph, tweet or blog. After all, I'm his baby brother.

Anyway, I want to tell you how, just a few months ago, despite being dead, Pat saved my professional butt.

I was on assignment for a business magazine and had to interview the CEO of a huge and well-known Canadian company.  After to'ing and fro'ing with the CEO and her public-relations people, they agreed to give me three hours of her time.

When I told my brother Tom (the third oldest of us), he estimated her annual salary and said, "That's pretty expensive time you're getting there, Peter."

I know. I did not want to mess up.

I always want whatever story I'm working on  to be my best, and this  was no different.

Before the interview,  I submitted a list of questions and took to the meet-up not one but two audio-recording devices.

Fast forward to the event. I was in the boardroom, with the CEO and two of her aides. Before we got to the business of, well, business, I asked, "Do you have any brothers or  sisters?"

Her: "Yes, a couple of sisters."

Me: "Are they executives, too?"

Her: "No.. one is a teacher and the other"...long pause..."died two weeks ago."

And she started crying. Not sniffling like somebody reporting a lost wallet to police, but sobbing, because her much-loved sister had just died. Between sobs,  she said, "sorry, I'm so sorry," and her assistant handed over handfuls of Kleenex.

I'm not a psychopath. I felt really badly. At the same time, I knew this could go way off the rails fast, and I had a story to write. I wasn't about to say, "Enough about your sister. Let's get back to interest rates."

I was stuck.

Something occurred to me.

"Actually," I said, "I kind of know where you're coming from. My oldest brother Pat died when I was about your age."

I had  her attention.  I--maybe Pat via me--continued:  "And you know what? I'm still mad at him. I am sure he did it to get out of helping us move into our new  house."

She laughed! I laughed. I swear Pat laughed. I also swear he salvaged my interview.

If  Pat showing up just in time to save his little brother isn't proof of an afterlife, I don't know what is and furthermore, I don't care.

The older I get the more I'm sure the people who preceded me will be there when I need them.

I fully intend to do the same.


  1. Don't forget to leave me your phone number. I hope it's an 800 number because I'm afraid Heaven is a long distance for me

    1. I'm sure we'll be in the same area code. Thanks for reading.

  2. Never met a Pat I didn't like. Thanks for reading, Sir.

  3. Thought of you today Peter, and after a search came across your blog, what a beautiful post ❤️