Dear John…

Posted by Paul Anderson | Monday, November 21, 2011 @ 4:56 PM

John Anderson

(Note to readers. I wrote this before Mona and I got married, but felt it wasn’t the right time to share, so I waited until the one-year anniversary of my brother’s passing. I’ve attached a post-script on our life since we exchanged vows).

Dear John,

I’m sorry I didn’t write this sooner. Truth is, I’ve been putting this off for months now.  In fact, I procrastinated a great deal before finally hitting the keys to write this.

I guess I just keep wishing I’ll get a call from you or something. That you need a ride somewhere, that you fell a little short of cash again this month and you need me to pick up some groceries for you. And even though I know intellectually that’s not going to happen, my stupid heart keeps wishing for one last call.

And my dumb heart is drowning out reason, especially now as Mona and I are within weeks now of making our ultimate bond – our marriage. You were supposed to be one of my groomsmen, and while I  considered maybe having your best friend fill in for you, I ultimately decided it made more sense to not replace you because, well, you’re irreplaceable. And you don’t need a proxy. I know you’ll be there, in some way or another, even if it’s just as a fond memory in my heart as well as Mona’s.

Remember when we called to tell you we were getting engaged? Up to that point I had only talked to Mom and Mona’s brother about it (to get their blessings) – and, then, after we discussed it with Mona’s mother (to get her blessing too!), we, of course, posted it on Facebook! And then came the phone calls to all of our loved ones. We still chuckle at your reaction.

“John, we’re getting married!”

“Yeah, and…?”

“What do you mean, yeah, and…? We got engaged!”

“I thought you were already engaged.”

As usual, you were making a deeper point. That you knew. You knew right from the beginning that Mona was the one. That I had finally found my true love – my match. And you were so happy for me, knowing all of the agony I had gone through, especially with one very difficult relationship back in Chicago. I suppose that’s why you opened up to Mona and revealed so much of yourself to her that first time you met. Remember when you said to her, “Now you know something very personal about me, so you can always feel safe telling me anything you want.” And Mona wept. And now I weep just remembering this.

But let’s reminisce about less poignant things.

Remember those goofy prank phone calls we used to make? I don’t know if I ever told you this before, but I did that almost entirely for you. Just hearing you laugh provided all the motivation to spoof people. I actually felt a little sorry for my victims. But I think your favorite one had to be the Robin Leach prank when I called that nightclub in the south suburbs of Chicago and made them believe I was actually the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” guy trying to book a video spot there. How gullible can you get? Did they really think Robin Leach booked his own appointments? But, dude, I was thisclose to booking that appointment, with the intention of going over there that day to watch them get all set up, when you start guffawing into the receiver on the other line at Dad’s house. And, now that we had been made, you bellowed your trademark, “FOOL!” before hanging up. I scolded you after that, and then quickly realized, who cares? Who wanted to go all the way over there for that anyway. Your laughing was enough reward, for sure.

And remember that time when we borrowed Dad’s Suburban so we could hang out? That was so funny. That clunker of a car I got from Dad had broken down and I had a doctor’s appointment I didn’t want to cancel, so we found those keys and took Dad’s truck. Took me a little bit to get used to it, but then we were just winging around as usual like Batman and Robin. We drove up to the north side, one of our favorite destinations, and we ran the usual gauntlet of comic book and record shops (hey, I think that’s when I bought that cool MLK Jr. T-shirt and Teenage Fanclub’s first CD). Then we went to see the new Gus Van Sant movie and as we got out we found a ball of yarn on the sidewalk that we just knew God put there for us to prank people with. Remember tying that silly yarn all around the parking meters and signs along the sidewalk all twisted like it was a lunatic’s police tape? And you were especially amazed that people would go through all sorts of gymnastics to avoid disturbing the yarn instead of just ripping it down? And, to top it off, I bellowed dialogue from the movie “Taxi Driver” at you to further frighten the natives. God, how you laughed at such nonsense. And I did it all for you – to make you laugh, because it was one of my favorite past times.

I’m sorry we didn’t laugh as much as we used to in your final days. I think I tried now and again, but you were so frightened by the looming surgery. And I was scared, too, but I tried not to let on, so as not to panic you. So it was hard for me to entertain you as usual. Still, it was nice when Mona, Harry and I took you to dinner that weekend before you left us. We did get in a little goofing that night. Still, I wish we had gone back to Harry’s to make a few prank phone calls. On the other hand, it’s a lot harder to do that anymore with cell phones and caller ID. The world seems a lot less amusing these days, especially with you gone.


Your brother,


P.S. This reminds me of when the three of us had lunch at that Italian restaurant in Lancaster. While Mona was away for a few moments, I told you that I thought she was the one, that we would get married, and I’ll never forget the look on your face. You seemed so excited. You would have loved the wedding. I’m even more sure of it after Mona and I watched the DVD of the wedding that arrived this weekend. I think the both of us would have been hilarious doing our Soul Train moves on the dance floor in sync. And I’m sure the sight of petrified me on a horse would have drawn the usual teasing from you (knowing also you would have been right there to catch me if I stumbled). And I can’t imagine how excited you would have been to stay with us at our new home. The three of us could have had a nice Thanksgiving dinner together in our new home.

So it goes without saying that on the first anniversary of your leaving us that you’ve been in my thoughts. But, surprisingly, my thoughts are less blue than I thought they’d be and I’m recalling more of the happier memories of us together. I’m guessing you would want it that way. It still hurts like hell and I miss you so much, but you should know you can still make me smile, no matter what happens.

I’ll always love you, brother John. And nothing could change that.

John Anderson 3

Hanging out with Brother John in Laguna - Thanksgiving, 2009. We shared a love for superheroes (both alive and fictional), as well as music and films.

John Anderson 2

Brother John enjoying Tablerock Beach with me and Mona while staying with us in Laguna.