I met him when I was five. He was seventeen years older than me, and it was his twenty second birthday. He strode into the house, a thick head of bright red hair, with a moustach to match and the most piercing blue eyes.
“Who is that?” I asked my stepfather, wary of the strange man in our house.
“That's Anthony. My son”
He walked into my life, a serious brooding young man, and would play a big part of it for the next thirteen years. Anthony would eventually move in with us for a few years and he was fun in a serious way. His friends would all come over before they went out (they were heavy partiers) and I loved hanging out with them. Once when I was seven, as they were all about to leave the house to go to some party or other, my mum and step dad were out, and the power went. Rather than leave me and my elder brothers alone, he told his friends to stay so we could all play hide and seek. We lived in a big old house, and it turned out to be a very memorable, fun night.
Alas, Anthony moved to England and never one for communication, we lost touch in my early twenties. I found his son on Facebook a few years ago and we briefly reunited over the phone. Anthony was never one for words, so that five minute conversation would be the first I had with him in over thirty years, and inevitably the last.
Last week, his ex-wife called to let me know that Anthony passed away from his cancer. I knew he had cancer, but not to what extent. Although I had not seen him for many years, his death saddened me. He was a huge influential part of my life in my informative years, and I learned a lot about kindness from him. His gestures were subtle, but very impressive on a young boy.
He died peacefully with his family at his bed, and for that I am glad because he deserved nothing less. So farewell my eldest brother. I did know you briefly, but you were forever in my heart, and I will be forever grateful for your kindness.