My brother Craig passed away on August 7th, 2017
It is difficult to write about my brother Craig – because even though he was simple in his values and what and who he loved, but, he also was a very complex personality. He had numerous ups and downs, peaks and valleys in his life. He fought his own personal demons down through the years.
My first thought since Craig has passed on – is how the makers of Budweiser and Jack Daniels must be in panic mode with so much less revenue. I smile to think that my brother in a roundabout way paid for more than a couple of those Budweiser Clydesdale horse commercials we all love. Craig would have laughed at this.
Those that know my family, know that my siblings and my childhood was not easy. Growing up being Craig’s little brother had its perks and advantages for sure. He, along with my other brother Dane would become my protectors and my heroes. In our hometown of Sheridan, Craig had earned a reputation as being tough and someone that you didn’t mess with – a well-earned status I might add.
After high school Craig joined the army and up until they day he passed – he always believed in America, he believed in our flag, he was a Patriot – bar none.
Craig later became a Union Pipefitter – and worked in that trade until he retired. Those that work that trade – know to last that long you need to have a strong back, an impeccable work ethic and high intelligence. Craig had all of that and then some.
Because of Craig’s character everyone wanted to be his friend. He was charming and had humor and wit – he had personality. I think it is safe to say that the friends that mattered most to Craig were those that he grew up with on the streets of Sheridan. The three that come to mind are James Laing and Tommy and Rocky Espinosa. Tommy, Rocky, and my brother Craig were legends in Sheridan. Hell, I can only imagine the stories that are told by those that are in the know about these three over a campfire while roasting hot dogs and drinking a beer or two.
One thing about Craig is that he loved women. Craig had a charismatic personality and I am sure charmed the pants off of more girls than I care to count. He was married three times to Diane, Teri, and Karin.
Of course Craig’s love that mattered most to him were those of his grandkids and daughter’s. Craig’s daughter Tonya preceded him in death and I am sure their reunion was the talk of the heavens. Natasha Colella is – well Natasha is a Reifschneider through and through. She is tough, she is brass, she has a tender heart – she is her father’s daughter. I learned this weekend that I need to send a huge hug out to another special young lady in Craig’s life Elena Basques – Espinoza.
As I sit here writing about Craig I realize I am not really doing his life justice in just a few sentences, but it is my hope that those that were touched in their lives by him, if what I have written here make’s you think of him, make you smile, make you cry – It has me.
Those that know me well – know I write poetry and those that know my brother along with him would find it funny that I wrote a poem about him. This poem is my therapy, my remembrance of my big brother.
When I was little you were my protector in the neighborhood,
I was safe from those that meant me harm and were up to no good.
In our troubled and uneasy childhood – you were my exceptional light,
Kept me safe from my childhood fears, you were my Big Brother Knight.
As I grew older I became confident because I walked behind in your shoes,
Many times I saw you stumble which helped me avoid some of life painful dues.
When we became adults – most times we did not see eye to eye,
No matter how much we argued – we always knew we were each other’s ally.
Painful to admit and I wish it were not true – how hurtful words sometimes flew,
But with others, we as brothers had the others back and always came through.
I have sat here these past few weeks and watched as your life faded away,
Thinking of all the years and the all the right things I didn’t know how to say.
Never told you “I love you” enough in your life – always thought I had more time,
This troubles me most as you walk from darkness to light in your heavenly climb.
Well, big brother, the Lord called you home, for he has a job for you to do,
In my heart, though sadly, I still can smile, because I know this to be true.
End of the darkness, there will be a light as your steps are one after another,
Sometimes you were my hero, sometimes my foe – but always my Brother.
Your life, our lives as brothers: what a twisting whirlwind as time flew,
Good bye Big Brother, just know that I always honored and loved you.
Kurt James © 2017
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