This is my favourite picture of my big brother Ed, who died in February.
It was taken approximately 40 years ago in the southbound lane of highway 6 a few miles north of Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario.
I shot and processed the photo; a fact I know for sure because I was a reporter at the time and that's what we did.
If you look closely you'll see there are two other guys in the picture, lying under the beautiful albeit broken-down black Buick LeSabre, trying to figure out what was wrong.
One of them was my brother Tom, who died about two years before Ed. The third? Not a Carter but a friend who quite possibly might have known even less than the rest of us what he was looking for.
As if he were beside me on my front porch where I'm sitting now, I can hear Ed: "You see people on the side of the road with their broken down cars with the hoods up, looking to see what's wrong with the motor, but do they ever look to see what the motor looks like when it's running right? Noo.."
I'm pretty sure I was driving the Buick when it cacked out, but I sure know it wasn't Ed. Yes, that's a beer he's holding in his right hand. Eddie left the driving to others. More fun for him.
(Which brings me to another mystery. And here's how Ed might put it. "I totally get why we can't drink and drive; why can't we drink and passenge?")
But back to the present.
I miss Ed all the time and channel him several times a day. What's more--and this sort of borders on the miraculous, two short paragraphs ago, I, without meaning to, sort of made up a quote that Ed might have uttered but didn't actually say. He would have totally approved of "why can't we drink and passenge?"
Which brings us to the upside of missing a dead person..
Ask anyone who knew him. Ed, like everybody who has ever lived, could be--I know you're going to find this hard to believe, and I hope you're sitting down--sometimes a little, um, you know, challenging.
As much fun as Eddie was, his idealistic buddy and fellow CUPW unionist Gerard van Deelen said the following at Ed's funeral, "James was a hardliner. And I like hardliners." (His name is James Edward. He was James at work; Ed at home.)
The wonderful thing about missing Ed and quoting him and thinking about all the stuff we did together is, as the great memories grow, the irritation fades. I think cells have memories and I remember with every cell in my body how much fun we had together but try as I might, I cannot conjure up the same physical reaction I had to his, whatchamacallit, vexiness.
Eddie can still make me laugh but he can no longer make me mad. Same thing with Tom. And now that I mention it, my eldest brother Pat, who died like 30 years ago, too. Happy memories rule.
Grieving my brothers makes my heart grow fonder.
Look at that photo again. How could a guy with a life-affirming grin like that ever vex? And as I remember it, when the cops pulled over and told him to pour out his beer, Eddie was the anti-vex; the paragon of politeness in fact and he did exactly as he was told. Not sure how we got the car back on the road but I guess we must have, some how.
And--as Ed might say--"They all lived happily in the hereafter."