My childhood memory of Brion was of absence and fear. Absence, because he never seemed to be around much, and fear, because of one particular incident that left an indelible impression on me. Growing up, I was the youngest of all the cousins. To be fair, I was the source of a lot of noise at our family get togethers. I remember running around, always trying to keep up with Bon and my sister Mirei. If I wasn’t shrieking with laughter, I was bawling my eyes out because I felt left out or didn’t get my way.
One Christmas at Brion’s house when I was around 5, after a rousing game of cat and mouse with Uncle Ben being the cat, I pooped out and went looking for a place of refuge to take a nap. Both Bon and Auntie Katsuko’s bedrooms were occupied, so I dared to open the forbidden door that was always closed…the door to Brion’s bedroom. It was nice and quiet in there, so I climbed onto his bed and promptly fell asleep.
The next thing I knew, I was being yanked by my ankles and thrown over someone’s shoulder like a sack of potatoes. My face was bouncing against somebody’s back, and it wasn’t until I was thrown onto the living room couch, that I realized it was Brion. There were no words…just “the look”, which was enough for me. I never entered that room ever again, even to this day.
There was a large piece of Brion’s life that I was not a part of, and it wasn’t until adulthood that we became reacquainted. Gone was that mysterious and intimidating guy that I remembered; and instead, in front of me stood a quiet, seemingly shy man who was soft-spoken and genuine. Brion never had much to say or to contribute to a conversation, but when he did speak, he did not mince his words.
More recently, my interactions with Brion occurred whenever he happened to be visiting with Auntie Katsuko. We planned our Frustration card games to coincide with his visits so we could visit with him. The downside was that the past came to haunt him with our shrieks of laughter while we played cards (Brion would hole up in his room); but on the upside, he was rewarded with homecooked Japanese food that Auntie Katsuko specifically requested (because you can’t get decent Japanese food in Connecticut, you know…).
Brion’s time came far too soon, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to have reconnected with him. It’s reassuring to know how well he was loved and taken care of by Donna, Jackie, Aimee, and their families.