Gubber’s Gate…the start.
The year two-thousand and eight was a year full of trials, desperation and sadness. The year started out when the company where I had worked downsized and eliminated my department. After twenty years of dedicated service, I was, all of a sudden, unemployed. With a wife and kids to support, this leaves a somewhat anxious and unnerving feeling in the pit of your stomach. But it was nothing…a mere ripple in the sea of one’s life as compared to the tsunami that was about to wash up on my emotional shores.
In our younger years, my brother and I did everything together. If I was in trouble, Jeff was in trouble. If Jeff was hurt, I was hurt. After we had gotten older, we had both moved out and started going our own ways looking to make a mark on the world. We always had music though to keep us in touch and in tune to what had been going on in our lives. It’s strange how the men in my family aren’t exactly the best verbal communicators, but we always manage to find a way to stay in harmony. It’s a blessing that had been handed down to us and one that I’ll treasure always.
On that fateful day when my brother told me he had cancer, I was caught completely off guard. It just hit me in a way that I had never imagined. And I’m one of those individuals who can be fairly good at imagining a great many scenarios. After coming to terms with Jeff having cancer, I had never thought about him not making it. It just didn’t seem possible that someone as young and strong as Jeff could ever succumb to anything. Plus, he was a stubborn son-of-a-gun and quite frankly, I wouldn’t have thought that he would really allow it to happen.
My sister, Deborah, who had multiple sclerosis for over twenty-five years, had passed away just two months before Jeff. This created yet another massive hole in my heart. After losing both my siblings, I started a new job, in a new city, in a new state. I had been in shock I suppose for the first year or so, just going through the motions of breathing. I took a trip to Italy and Austria with my family to do something I had always wanted to do. I had tended to push things like this off until later, but after losing my brother and sister, there didn’t seem to be a later anymore; only a now.
In June of 2009, I started writing the first chapter of Gubber’s Gate. I knew from the start that it would be a good representation of Jeff’s life. I would pick those moments that I thought were a good reflection of his larger than life personality; his huge heart, his sarcastic grin, and his artistic talents. I could have written a great deal more and had told many more stories from his many friends and family. But sometimes fewer words can make a larger impact. Jeff would have appreciated the brevity and the use of less flattery.
The most significant detail of the concept I had envisioned for this book, right from the start, was that it had to have a better ending. I needed to have something more than the empty feeling I had when I left that hospital room. There is something about putting the words on the page, or playing the musical notes on the piano, or saying the words out loud that makes all the difference. If you leave these feelings unchecked in your heart and mind…there’s no telling what will become of them. They will do no one any justice. They will do no one any good. And certainly, they could not bring out the very best of what people are capable of doing.
Cancer, multiple sclerosis, and so many other dreadful diseases are cutting peoples’ lives to ribbons. But more importantly, these people who have these diseases and their families and friends who stand by them are proving time and time again that the human race can be at their best when life is shelling out its worst. My dear friends…this is what I choose to remember and cherish.
God bless your families, your challenges, and your journey. We’ll share it together.