Remembrance of Jim, my Big Brother
After a long struggle with complications of diabetes, my brother passed in April 2017. He was 70 years of age. I miss him dearly but I celebrate a life well lived, rich with the places he visited and the people he called family and friends. A person’s life is sometimes defined by the memories held by others and the items that are left behind. They are the evidence of a person’s passions and values.
To know Jim is to know his love of jazz music. He enjoyed classic and new-age jazz. A favorite artist was Miles Davis playing during the visitation today. When I see a bottle of Tabasco sauce on the table, I sometimes remember his fond memories of visiting New Orleans, listening to jazz legends on Bourbon Street, and his side trip along the Gulf Coast to Avert Island which is the home and manufacturing location of Tabasco Sauce.
To know Jim is to know his love of wildlife and cats. Jim enjoyed his cats. His last pair were a brother and sister he rescued after someone abandonened them in the industrial district where Jim worked. They were named Molly and Wiley. Other cats spoiled by Jim were Gladys and Ben. Jim had a pillow on his bed with the following message that exhorted him On the table is a pillow that reminded him to “be the kind of person that his cats wanted him to be”. The birds were enjoyed by Jim and also by the cats as they peered out the front screen door. Jim had up to ten bird feeders surrounding his home. Those birds we miss Jim greatly next winter. In honor of his love of cats, we recommend any gifts in his memory be sent to the animal rescue center indicated in the program card as you entered the room. He often visited the Leoss Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, formerly named the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge north of Kansas City.
To know Jim is to know his love of camping, fishing, and nature. One of his favorite memories was camping for the entire summer in Colorado. Another is the time he was invited by Mike McGonigle and his father to accompany them on a historic fishing trip in Canada. Jim also liked to collect rocks and geodes since he had a passion for nature and science.
To know Jim is to know his love of coffee. He began each day with reading the New York Times Newspaper, brewing a pot of exotic coffee he has freshly ground, and enjoying each cup. He especially liked the international coffees he bought at Sprouts grocery stores. When I came down to Kansas and visit, my favorite memories were sitting at the dining room table in the morning, drinking some of his fresh brewed coffee, discussing world events, and just enjoying one another’s company. When I drink coffee, I think of Jim.
To know Jim is to know that he was a foodie. One way to define is a foodie is the person enjoys different types of food, prepares food for others, collects food, or collects cookbooks. Jim did all four. At one time, he was a Chef at the Prospect Restaurant near Westport, Kansas City. Much of his career since then has been as a fish whole seller with several firms in the region. His previous career as a chef gave him a unique way of relating to the chefs of white table cloth restaurants and meat marketers in Kansas City when he became a seller of fish rather than preparing fish. Jim was thankful for the way the company treated him and the people he had the chance to work with and for. He was happy that he had the opportunity to work with the top chefs and meat marketers of Kansas City and encourage and inform them to creatively use seafood from around the world with their customers.
My brother was many things. I most remember his friendship and kindness to me.
-- David Arendale