Pablofisherman died October 7. It will take me a long time to get used to that. We shared parents, a sibling, and a home for the first six years of my life, after which he went off to join the Navy and became an almost mythical figure for the next fifty years (!), with occasional visitations for major family events: bar mitzvahs, weddings, and funerals. Pablofisherman never married or had children. He had one long-term female companion but they drifted apart about ten years ago.
There were many family speculations about why he was so reclusive, and now it will remain a mystery. When he fell ill (literally: he took a fall seven years ago and lay unconscious in his home for many hours before a neighbor became suspicious and thankfully called the police), it became my responsibility to make decisions for him. Even though I lived eight thousand miles away, I was fortunate to have the Internet and a physician relative in place to be able to supervise his care. He returned to himself, but was not able to return to his home, and he spent his last seven years wheelchair-bound in a variety of "facilities," first at the expense of the Veterans' Administration and subsequently private.
I took these last seven years as a challenge to get to know him better, not so much out of any deeply felt bond as out of curiosity. To be honest, I was trying to learn what he and I shared and how we differed as much to know myself better as to know him better. Somewhere along the line I got the feeling that I had "broken his code," and could pretty well predict how he would react to various events. It didn't stop me from trying to get him to learn to use the laptop that I got for him, even though I failed on that one.
Coincidentally, about a week after P.'s death, the husband of a friend of mine died after a brief illness. En route home to Tel Aviv, I stopped in New York for a few days to pay a condolence call on her. Here were two men of the same generation, and the effect of their loss on those left behind is so different. In one case it's a mystery, in the other, a tragedy. Or maybe the other way 'round?