By Don Lindsey
November 14th will mark the ten-year anniversary of my brother Jimmy’s passing. I’m quite sure that we all have lost loved ones who we still miss deeply no matter how long they’ve been gone and for me Jimmy is at the top of that list along with my grandmothers.
Being fourteen years older than me, Monkey (a nickname was given to him by our mother because he would climb everything as a child) was my third oldest sibling and drew a lot of the babysitting duties while my parents were at work. Now that I think about it, most of my early memories are with either Jimmy or my “youngest” brother (12 years older) Mike. Both of them always kept me busy going places or doing something together, and for Jimmy, it was spending time at the great Miami River not that far from where we lived.
Most of the time we met friends of our family that my brothers and sister had gone to school with and people I grew up around. They would build a fire, fish some and I’d walk down the bank a bit and skip rocks across the water. The part of town that we were in was a busy section, yet somehow in that little-wooded area, it felt as if we were inside of a vast jungle in some other part of the world. I can still smell the smoke of the fire and hear my brother’s laughter as he and his friends exchanged jokes and stories.
Other memories from that period include him taking me to parks to play basketball, and to the movies where we saw such classics as the first Star Trek movie. He was always looking for us to do things, and now that I look back, I appreciate the time he spent with me more than I can explain.
I also appreciate some of the things that he had to go through in his life. Born with a hole in his heart, he had to go through open heart surgery as a very young child, and this caused some developmental issues. He also got hit by a car around the age of five, crossing the road to go to the same river he took me to all those years later which broke almost every bone in his body leaving him in traction for many months. He would recover from these severe injuries and conditions and as a result, lived life to the fullest.
We still spent a lot of time around each other even when we got older. Most of the times were either involved with working the same jobs or catching up over some beer and a night out. Working with him was some of the most fun I can remember having as an adult. He could make you laugh no matter how bad your day was. Once I left our job and moved, we didn’t spend as much time with each other, and a couple of years later, he went into a nursing home due to issues related to liver disease. He stayed there for the last two years of his life, and I’m grateful to say that I got to see him every chance I got. Even during some of the worst situations that he faced, he still worried about my mother and other members of the family and he still had that uncanny superpower to make me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry.
Jimmy was 48 when he passed away. That’s way too early in my opinion, but when I think back to how he lived his life, I’m inspired because he always tried to get the most out of what he had. I realize that he left me a big lesson in that regard because life is a gift and not getting everything out of it is a waste of that gift. I understand now that I learned a lot from that man and while I miss him dearly, the memories we shared and the love I have for him, still keep him with me.
Don Lindsey is a follower of Christ, son, husband, father, and a survivor. Originally from Dayton Ohio, and resident of Apopka for six years, Don sees his life as a dedication to his wife, parents, children, and community.