Do you ever wish you knew a rock star or at least someone famous? Someone that touched many people’s lives? My brother in law was a rock star. Loren was well known and in some ways famous in the busy San Francisco music scene. He played in multiple bands and scored the music for three musical productions. With his music and creativity he did touch people’s lives weekly with his musical genius. To be fair, he did not view it this way. He would consider himself “just” a professional, gigging musician who loved trains. But to the many who knew him and were touched by his music, he was in fact one of a kind.
I remember hearing about Loren when I first started dating his sister (now my wife) and was concerned that I may have to first pass a piano audition to be accepted into the family. As a guitar player and tech geek, the thought of this was intimidating. It turned out there was no piano audition or any type of intimidation from this brother meeting his sister’s boyfriend for the first time. It was his way to be kind and funny and welcome me in as another musical brother into his family.
Loren played rock and soul and jazz music in the many groups he was a part of over the years, but it was the jazz and soul that made his feet tap. Jazz music is all about improvisation inside and outside an often complex structure. One of my brother’s last words were to a long time friend and though he didn’t have energy to speak for very long at this point, remarked, “It’s all jazz.” Simply put, but eloquent.
Loren was more often funny or controversial, but in this moment summed up his journey with one comment. I can’t really ask him for clarification now, but take it to mean that even in the unpredictable nature of his and our paths, there is always a melody line, a beauty that runs through the chaos. He had less time than most of us to discover this, but I feel it was his un-intentioned gift to us all.
As I and other friends and family walked with my brother this year, there were many times when i walked slowly with him as we talked about life, death, heaven, hell and ... how much better vinyl recordings are than the pervasive MP3. He loved his wife and son deeply along with his sisters and the rest of his family of friends. He greatly missed his daily work playing with his beloved band members in various groups, but spent as much time with them as he could in his last days to make sure they all knew how much love he had for them.
Loren walked through this difficult season with humor and grace. His concern for how those he loved would be impacted by his passing left a sweetness with us all. His love of trains, jazz music and Reese’s peanut butter cups will always make me smile.
You see … here’s the thing ... you never know how this day will end, but we all do have some say in how it will begin. My brother was just a guy trying to find the laughter and the melody in the complexity of life. His illness and passing were out of his control, but how he brought what he could to each day with grace and humor was the best improvisation that will always be with me as I start each day. Afterall … It’s all jazz.