Wow, I have to say my head has been spinning and my emotions are up and down. When you’ve known someone your entire life, it’s staggering when they are no longer a phone call away. Even when you know that life is winding down for this person, you just don’t think about it; if I don’t think about it, then it will never happen. But you can’t prevent life from happening and you can’t prevent death when it comes.
So, my brother and friend and encourager has passed into eternity. Neal Joseph Touhill, Jr. has died. My older brother born in 1939 has passed away; he was 83. For all my life he was called “Brown”… my brother Brown, Uncle Brown to my kids. Part of my DNA, my history, my blood has left this earth. All our joint memories are no longer joint…. I can now only remember them by myself… if I bring up the old stories to someone else, I have to explain everything…. they are just facts, information… the understanding and emotion and joy or sadness are not shared. (see the P.S. below for the one exception)
Up to a couple of weeks ago, I would call him on the phone, “Brown this is David….. Hi David, how are you doing?” The next 30 or 40 or 60 minutes we would cover the universe, sometimes talking each other off the ledge as we discussed the state of the world, of our country, of our culture. Despite how discouraging much of this conversation would be, we would eventually change course and begin talking about the Lord and his mercy and grace. We would remind each other that when we turn to the back of the book (Bible), “Jesus wins”. We don’t have to be afraid, Christ has conquered the evil one. We would end every conversation with a prayer, finishing with “in Jesus name we pray…. I love you, talk to you soon.”
Brown was a loner. He liked to be alone. He was smart. He was a pilot for a number of years flying for commuter airlines in the Midwest and teaching flying in Florida. Back in the early ‘70’s when we were recently married, Judy and I visited him; he flew us around Florida and then to the Bahamas. I remember being out over the ocean in this 4 seater plane, with the engine sounding like big lawn mower and no land in sight. I wasn’t afraid because he knew what he was doing… and then he said, see that spot over there…that’s the Bahamas. I felt rich as we landed at this small airport.
Brown was a learned man. He enjoyed philosophy and theology and literature. He was not a successful business man and lived very simply in his later years. He last saw our kids in 1996 when he came for our mother’s funeral in New Jersey. He didn’t fly after 911. Judy and I visited him twice in Tucson over the years… going to parks, museums, eating some very good food… just being together. Brown was more and more a stranger in a foreign land. He was an idealist. He was made for heaven. This world just didn’t satisfy him.
As he suffered with this growth in his throat that eventually took his life, it became more difficult for him to speak. The last time we spoke, I said, I’ll talk with you soon…he answered, “if not, I’ll see you in heaven.” Well, actually it wasn’t the last time we talked. A few days later, I called St Mary’s Hospital in Tucson asking for the chaplain and got thru to this wonderful priest. I explained my brother is in the ICU, can you visit with him and pray with him”? An hour or so later, I got a face time call with the picture of the chaplain…” David, I’m hear with your brother Neal and have given him the Last Rites; he then turned the phone and I saw my brother in bed… his hair was white, he was on a ventilator and unable to speak, he was peaceful, and looked like an angel. I said, “Brown, this is David…Jesus is with you, he will help you, and we said the Our Father and I told him “I love you”. A few days later he passed peacefully into the arms of his savior after this good priest had once more prayed with him.
I’m happy Brown is home with God. I pray he’s experiencing overwhelming joy and peace, with no more worry about the country and the world, where Jesus truly does have the last word. I will miss him. “I love you Brown…thanks for loving me and being my older brother ….. say hello to mother. I’ll see you in heaven….. Love, David.”
P.S. This is my letter, but my sister Libby and brother Tommy have their own letter to write. “Tommy & Brown” were Irish twins, born a year apart the same date. They were very close over these 83 years. They loved each other and spoke frequently. They traveled together. They helped each other. Tommy & Brown had many more shared memories than I did. It’s hard for me to lose Brown, it’s even harder for Tommy. But I pray and hope that we will all be reunited together in heaven one day. And that will be very good news.
9 thoughts on ““Brown””
Dad, what a beautiful tribute. I can see how much you loved him.
May Uncle Brown be caught up with the Lord.
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I can only picture him smiling as in the picture 🤩, surrounded by love and forgetting everything he was burdened with. He will surely be praying for our safe return to our eternal home🙌🏻
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Thanks Bird for always loving and encouraging Brown.
Oh, blest communion, fellowship divine! We feebly struggle, they in glory shine; yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
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That’s a beautiful honoring of your brother Dave!
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Dear Dave, We’re so sorry for your loss… This is a beautiful tribute to your brother, Brown. (Would love to hear the story of his nick-name some day.) Thank you for sharing about him and giving us all a little insight into this special piece of your life.
I am being very blessed by reading your blogs since signing up to receive them. They help to keep my heart light in this new season of my life.
Blessings on your family and especially your siblings in this time of loss.
In Christ, Donna (& Frank)
Thanks Donna. When my brother was here in 1996, he had a good conversation with Frank and spoke about it to me on more than one occasion. He really liked Frank. He also mentioned Fr. John Demkovich who spoke at my mother’s funeral mass….”sounds like James Cagney”… he liked him a lot. So Frank, thanks for being kind to my brother. Peace. Dave
Loved reading this – I love hearing stories of your family, Dad. Thanks for being open to sharing during this time of loss. We love you !!
Love you, Dad! Thanks for sharing this with all of us. ♥️