David Michael Reardon (1951-2015)

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David Michael Reardon (1951-2015)

Oh, David.

You’ve gone, and we have been left behind.

I feel sadness and anger and guilt and pain and so many other emotions.

This is why so much great art is about tragedy.

We live our lives. Our bodies fall apart. We die.

A couple of images have stuck with me over the past week.

One is this: I see God opening his arms for you and giving you a deep hug as he welcomes you to heaven.

But I know that you didn’t believe in such stuff. And I don’t want you to come back as a ghost to haunt me. So I’ll go to the other image.

web...3...Our family, down the generations, is an intricately woven fabric.

With your death, there is a rip in that fabric.

It’s a rip that, over time, will be repaired. But there will always be a scar there.

We are not the same now as we were earlier this month.

 

***

 

You’re gone. But here’s the thing: You’re not gone.

You are still with us in the fabric of our experiences, in the fabric of our existence.

You have touched each of us in unique ways. You have helped shape us.

You touched and shaped Trish and your kids and grandkids.

You touched and shaped your brothers and sisters and your nieces and nephews.

You touched and shaped the little ones in the next generation.

And you will help shape the little ones still to come. They will be formed and taught and nurtured by the family that you helped form and teach and nurture.

After your death, one of my earliest realizations is that I had known you longer than anyone else alive had known you — and that you had known me longer than anyone else.

This week, I went through the family photos I had, and I realized how much we shared our childhood. And how much, for all our differences, we were also very much alike.

 

***

 

I remember the time we got into trouble together. I was maybe eight, and you were seven.

There was that new house being built on Washington Boulevard a bit west of Laramie Avenue. Only the basement level had been put in. So there were these bare walls surrounding a sea of mud.

web...1... - CopyWhat WERE we thinking?

I don’t know, but we climbed all around that construction site and got a bit muddy.

Well, not exactly. We got really and deeply muddy.

There was so much mud on our bike wheels that we had to walk the bikes home.

We came up the back stairs, and I guess it was Dad who saw us there and, well, he got kind of angry. He had us take all our muddy clothes off and spanked us and put us in the bathtub.

We washed up — I can imagine how darkly dirty the water was — and got in our pajamas and were sent to bed.

Then, Dad went out to the back porch to take our clothes and put them into the washer.

They were so caked with mud, though, that he got angry all over again and came into the bedroom and spanked both of us a second time.

Ah, well. We deserved it.

 

***

 

In our family, of course, baths often played an important role.

For instance, when I was about seven, I fell out of the top bunk and cut my lip.

I was bleeding a lot but must have been still half-asleep because, instead of going for help, I crawled into the bottom bunk with you, David.

Being together with you was a kind of help, I guess.

web...2... - CopyMaybe I was crying, or maybe I got you crying. In any case, Mom and Dad found us pretty quickly, but, with all the blood all over, they couldn’t tell who was hurt. Or how.

So, they put us in the bathtub and washed us, and — voila! — found that I was the injured party. You were simply an innocent bystander. Or by-sleeper, or something.

 

***

 

David, you and I went to a lot of John Wayne movies as we grew up.

Sometimes, we took Tim and John, such as when we went to see the movie “The Sons of Katie Elder.”

John Wayne was a lot like Dad, and we tried to emulate both of them.

You and I learned to be strong and dependable. We didn’t whine. We sought to solve the problems we faced. We bore burdens. We sought to do the right thing. We took responsibility for ourselves.

This really came home to me this week when I remembered that great family story — a real epic, a true saga. The story of you walking home from downtown.

Okay, it’s a Sunday, and you go downtown with your friends on the el. At some point, they ditch you, or simply lose track of you, and come back to the neighborhood.

You’re fine. You’re maybe eleven. Being alone downtown isn’t scary. Or not too scary.

You know all you have to do is to take the quarter you have in your pocket, get on the el and you’ll be back at Lake and Laramie in a short time.

But you get on the wrong el.

web...4....You don’t realize your mistake until you get off and find that you aren’t at Lake and Laramie.

So, you walk back downtown under the el — I’m sure it was the Ravenswood Line — and then find Lake Street and start your trek west.

It’s about seven miles from downtown to our house. And so it is pretty late in the afternoon when you finally reach home.

Mom and Dad have had the cops out, scouring the neighborhood in search of you. I rode in one squad car; Dad rode in another.

So, for two or three hours, there’s been high drama in our house, and the fear is ratcheting up.

And you walk in the back door.

Mom bursts into tears and hugs you, and, when she finally gets her breath, she says, “Why didn’t you tell someone you were lost? Why didn’t you ask someone for help?”

You and I, though, weren’t trained to ask for help. We were trained — and we trained ourselves — to solve our problems.

You saw the problem, and you solved it. Besides, as you told Mom:

I wasn’t lost. I knew where I was.

 

***

 

David, you spent your life doing that — taking responsibility for your life. Facing the challenges that life threw at you.

A year ago, when we put together the Reardon history, there was a question that each of us answered:

“What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?”

Your answer was:

“What I want them to remember — I tried. I gave it my best shot. I didn’t shirk my responsibilities. I tried. I gave it an honest, sincere effort.”

That you did, David. That you did.

David Michael and Pat 12.2014

We will always miss you.

You will always be a part of the fabric of our family. Part of the fabric of our lives.

We love you.

=======

Patrick T. Reardon

11.28.15

18 Comments

  1. Eileen Pesek Novick says:

    What great stories to remember your brother by.

  2. Carol and Jack Barrella says:

    That was absolutely beautiful! Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  3. Gary Krukar says:

    I’m sure that writing this tribute will help the healing to begin. We send you our continued prayers and a huge abrazo. Gary & Dianne

    • Patrick T. Reardon says:

      You’re right, Gary. I realized again that, as a writer, I have an outlet for feelings that help me focus and heal. Like being able to play music — a talent I don’t have. Thanks to you and Dianne.

  4. Anne Daly says:

    Simply lovely, Pat. Are no words, other than we are so sad for all of you, but glad you can express yourself so well here. Much love to all of you.

  5. Helen Amberg says:

    This is a beautiful tribute for your brother. Having lost 2 siblings under similar circumstances, I empathize with all your emotions. You and your family are in my prayers.

    • Patrick T. Reardon says:

      Thanks, Helen. As you know, we have a large family and have a lot of love and support for each other, but also a lot of pain.

  6. Mary Elizabeth Zelasko says:

    Thank you Pat for your words and your love. We will heal with each other.
    Love you

  7. Pat Sullivan Lopez says:

    Patrick, what a beautiful, loving tribute to David. I had tears in my eyes reading it. RIP David. I will fondly remember growing up with you…..

  8. Bill Houlihan says:

    Hi Pat,

    So sorry to hear about David’s death. Your eulogy was exquisite. I lost my older brother in 2002 at the age of 58. Your remarks that you will always be with us are so true. When anyone ask me how big is my family, I still say 9 sisters and 3 brothers.

    take care old friend,

    Bill Houlihan

  9. you me pat, i don’t believe in god, BUT god bless you for what you wrote and feel and give to others. much love, to you, eunice

    • Patrick T. Reardon says:

      Thanks, Eunice. If there is a God, God is in the way we share our sorrows and joys together, support each other. And, if there isn’t, there is blessing and grace in the way we share together and support each other. I have been solaced by the love and support of friends like you and of my family. Pat

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