Memories of Jay.

picture-21Memory is a strange thing.  Things that were once top of mind fade over time. As you know, memory is how we store, retain and recall information. Mine was jogged, big time, by an email I received on Friday from someone I hadn’t thought of in almost 40 years. I was in college and she was the girlfriend of my younger brother Jay back in the early ’70s. I really don’t recall too much about their relationship other than that it was. I was too busy with my own life at the time.

1971Jay died of AIDS in 1985 and while his death effected me in a major way at the time, after almost 25 years things have a way of fading from memory and I don’t think of him as often as I once did. But her series of emails over the past 24+ hours have taken me back to a different time and place.

I remember my brother Jay as a talented, troubled, loving kid who could always make me smile and laugh. I remember his struggling with his sexuality in a very different time. I remember my parents reaction to his being gay. I also remember, my father throwing his arms around Jay, crying, and telling him that he loved him when, after a few years of estrangement, they reconnected in my NYC apartment in the early 80s.

Now, some 25 years after his death, I am struck by thoughts of what might have been.  What might have been had the world of the early 1970s been a different place for a gay man? What might have been had treatment for the disease been what it is today.? What would Jay be like if he had lived and was a 55 year old man today?

I want to believe that I was a good brother and friend.  He lived close to me in NYC for about 5 years in the late 70s and early 80s, so we spent a great deal of time together. But could I have done more? I guess I will never know.  For now, thanks Edna for contacting me and bringing back memories of Jay that had faded from my mind over time.



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2 responses to “Memories of Jay.

  1. Edna

    It’s been great being in touch and talking about Jay after all these years — to have speculating about the rest of his story change to knowing the rest of his story. I’ve also been able to remember great times now, of my first dates going to Dairy Queen and being introduced to “Peanut Butter Nutty Peak Milkshakes,” (at a time when teenagers don’t worry about milkshake calorie count), to get on bikes to go play pinball on a summer afternoon, to remember a first Phillies game ever after being driven to Philadelphia right after her boyfriend got his driver’s license…and also to remember her first time on a roller coaster after no amount of resistance to the idea would work.

    Yes, having Jay live longer and be in our lives would have been so much better…but at least we also have the honor and gift of having had Jay be in our lives at all so maybe now we can shift our thinking. For that, I can smile and feel grateful! And instead of feeling so terribly sad about a December day when he left us, we can now remember May 22 as a day to celebrate he was with us!


  2. Wow. After all these years you still remember his birthday Edna. You have brought tears to these old eyes.