What can you say about a brother who once sprinkled Tabasco sauce on your Easter Jelly Beans. Not all of them, I would have tossed out the whole batch. Vance was fiendish. I had to pick my way through the landmine of the Easter Basket. One was not surprised that he shared a birthday with Adolph Hitler.
Vance was six years older than me. He died this morning. He had been ill for a very long time. Oddly, knowing something will happen does not lessen the jolt when it does.
I have another brother whom I adore, but Vance loomed large in my life. He never once said a nice thing to me or my other brother, but his wife says he was very proud of me. He was better with wood than with words. He crafted beautiful furniture, forged wrought iron, took amazing photos, made wonderful castles and houses for his nephews and nieces. By trade he was an industrial archaeologist.
The three of us took ownership of our childhood summer home in 1985. The house is very old, and prone to disaster. It still stands, largely because of the years Vance spent bending it to his will. He was tireless. We all worked on the house, but always under his direction.
I wrote a few novels and Vance became one of my best characters. ( I think he really enjoyed that.) But really it wasn't much of a stretch of imagination. Here is a true story: Vance came home for my wedding weekend . My parents had two crazy, excitable Weimaraner dogs, Misty and Storm. Vance always addressed them German commands. I don't know where or why Vance got the bullwhip, but he started thwacking it on the driveway. Not at the dogs, but it riled Storm and he bit Vance. My parents had offered us a honeymoon at their house of the Vineyard, provided we take the dogs, (My parents would arrive in a week.) Off we went with two crazed hounds. Storm had to be quarantined in a shed for a week. He howled and clawed at the door. It has been fifty years, but that is all I remember of my honeymoon.
My brother was cantankerous to us, but known for his generosity to others. An enigma wrapped in a puzzle I never solved.