My Brother Craig
Once upon a time, there were three of us – Claudia Catherine, Christopher Chase, and Craig Cameron. That was undoubtedly my dad’s idea, and the fact that we all had the same initials (CCR) proved to be both blessing and curse, as the three of us discovered, growing up.
Craig was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in November 1959, just after I turned 5. We lived in a yellow house in Forest Park, a suburb of Cincinnati. I remember toting him around in our red wagon, and greeting him with hugs when I got home from kindergarten. When he was little, he couldn’t pronounce my name, so I became “Cree-ia”. We got our first of a series of dachshund puppies, and I have lots of photos of him asleep on the couch, with a puppy curled up next to him.
He and my next youngest brother Chris were only two years apart in age. Once he asked, “Mom, are we twins?” Her answer was terse, “No, Thank God – that’s why you’re alive today!”
The three of us enjoyed trips to Michigan to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins several times a year, and with us he enjoyed picking wild blueberries and wading in the surf of Lake Michigan. Like the rest of us, Craig had fond memories of the Hiawatha Sportsmen’s Club in the upper peninsula, going fishing early on summer mornings to catch perch or trout, and piling in the car to go to the dump in the evening, hoping to catch a glimpse of the bears who would come foraging.
When Craig was eight years old our family moved to Florida, which opened up whole new adventures for him. Our dad worked for Boeing at the Kennedy Space Center, and Craig fell in love with all things scientific, especially astronomy. In junior high he was in a gifted program, developing a report on fiber optics. In high school he enjoyed classes in computer programming, science fiction, and mathematics, continuing those interests in his classes at Bellevue Community College and the Lake Washington Vocational Technical Institute. When dad got his first Osborne computer in 1977 (with a wonderful 16K of memory, which he was excited to expand to 49K the following year), Craig was actively involved in working with it.
In his part time jobs working as a delivery driver for a Bellevue pharmacy, and Fleet Delivery Services, he had the opportunity to explore the back roads all around this area, enjoying the scenery – the tall pine trees and the snow-covered mountains, and the water that surrounds us here. The job gave him some measure of independence, the chance to be on his own away from home, and the opportunity to explore.
Craig felt the loss of our parents more than any of us, I think. I was touched beyond words when, while cleaning out his apartment, I opened a bin and found in the bottom the yellow nightgown and robe, looking brand new, that had belonged to our mom. It’s now hanging in my closet. Throughout his many moves Craig managed to hang into Dad’s chess set that he made in Lansing High School in the 1940’s, and a scrapbook from the Apollo Space Program of the 1970’s, complete with an autographed picture of the Apollo astronauts. And he had Dad’s pith helmet, which had been handed down to Chris, and then Craig. Now it’ll be handed down to Jason.
I feel that the last 4 or 5 years of Craig’s life were his happiest, even though he had experienced a heart attack, the onset of diabetes, and required dialysis 3 times a week. He had a good place to live. He had his computer and the whole wide world of the internet to keep him entertained and informed. He had some good friends in Robert, Leroy, John and Jerry, and a wide circle of friends in several online communities, who expressed their sorrow at his death. The emails they sent to me at the news of his death mentioned him as being “a bright light, and a kind and generous soul, who will be very much missed.”
Craig had a caregiver who cared about him as well as for him, who spoiled him rotten. He had nurses at the Northwest Kidney center who cared about him. He was surrounded by his books, and he had enough money to live on. What more could he ask for?
Even though throughout his adult life he professed a disbelief in God, I like to think that he saw what we know as God in those of us who cared for him. In his friend Robert, who would come down to his apartment and keep him company, or invite him upstairs to enjoy the fireplace during an ice storm that took out the power. In me, who would drop everything at a moment’s notice to take him to the hospital, or the kidney center, or the pharmacy. In the beauty of nature that surrounds us here in the Pacific Northwest. In the music that he loved to listen to, and in the educated minds of his online friends and his favorite authors. And in the stars that were placed in the heavens, so beautiful and so scientifically exact.