My dearest brother Edo,
My first memories of you are crystal clear. I’m five and you’re twenty. My tiny hand is in your big, warm one, as you take me on the trolleybus in Armenia to visit your friend. Ticket in hand, I wave it at the bus driver and you laugh under your breath. That ticket is no longer necessary; you’ve paid our fair. But you let me feel important, that I’m the one to make our bus ride official.
The first time I tasted Coca Cola you gave it to me. I hated it. You laughed and told me, “but it’s from America!” I told you it hurts my tongue. On your wedding, I was eleven. You made sure I had a pretty dress to wear. When I was twenty-one you forced me to go with you and Judy to your best friend’s wedding. I didn’t want to go, but you told me I have no choice, even though I’d burned your shirt while ironing it. I went because I didn’t want to disappoint you. It’s where I met my husband. On my wedding day, you walked me down the aisle. You were always there to talk to me when I was feeling down, always lent me your ear, no matter how busy you were or how much life had thrown your way – which was a lot. But you never showed it.
The summers I spent with you are now priceless memories. I’ll never forget our games of Farkle, Phase 10 and Apples to Apples where you loved being the judge; our walk across the Hudson Bridge, now a distant fantasy; our tour of Vassar University where you knew more about their history than they did; our antique hunt on Metropolitan Avenue where you made friends with the owner of one of the stores – he asked about you a year after. You made an impression everywhere you went. You made friends so easily because people saw the genuine human being you are. You gave so much of yourself to others – your family, friends, and even people you barely knew. You opened your doors to anyone who needed a friend, a shoulder, a laugh. You had a calm way of comforting those who needed comfort, and making everyone laugh who needed to laugh. You were our glue. You kept our family together and made sure that we respect and love one another. You taught me so much – how to be caring, loving, and selfless. And most of all, to be genuine.
An all-around Renaissance man, you turned to gold everything you touched. You loved storms, stamps, antique bottles, metal detecting, roosters, birds, books, books and books. And music – violins, pianos, and mandolins. Some of my earliest memories are of waking in the morning to the music you played on our old record player – Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles, the Bee Gees. I miss your violin playing and our piano duets. I miss you.
You were a wonderful husband, father, son and brother. You took care of our father in a way no one could have. You were always my father-figure, even before our father was too ill to do much fathering. I have been blessed with having you in my life. My big brother. My second father. My friend. God must have loved you so much to want you back so early.
I wish I had more time with you, but you knew when it was time to go and tried to ease our pain. You told us to live our lives and celebrate yours. You added color to my life and a brightness no one else can ever replace.
You are my idol. I always looked up to you, and I will always cherish the memories I shared with you. I’m glad I had you in my life.
I love you, my aper.