My little brother would have been 57 today. It seems had to believe he’s been gone since 2005. Much like children aren’t supposed to die before their parents little brothers aren’t supposed to die before their big sisters.
My little brother was the middle child. The kid with the mostly sunny disposition compared to his more dour big sister. Cam was Mom’s golden boy and had the hardest time with her when he got cancer. Because I was the one born with disabilities I was the defective one and he was her perfect boy. When he got sick somehow switched places and he didn’t know how to deal with the switch. He was her 6’4” blond haired hazel eyed perfect child. The night he had his first seizure she refused to get out of bed and go to the hospital to okay treatment and hung up before my dad could. He never forgave her for that.
The first time he was in chemo and radiation, Mom forbid my dad to drive him to treatment. My dad actually snuck out of the house to take turns driving Cam along with myself and 3 guys who had full blown AIDS and would die soon after Cam finished chemo.
When Mom got congestive heart failure and ended up in the hospital Cam flew down and went in to talk to Mom alone. To this day I have no idea what he said to her but she started screaming and he walked out and never spoke to her again before he died. I can only assume he enacted some karmic retribution that she richly deserved.
Cam got better the first time after participating in a clinical trial and was the longest lived survivor of his kind of brain cancer for 15 years. In that time he finished his college degree, BM in Voice at CSUF, got a good job at Sun Microsystems, joined the SF Gay Men’s Chorus, got a 10 year Medallion from the Gay Square dance organization, and found the love of his life, Scott.
My sister and I got to spend a weekend with Cam in April before the cancer would go on a rampage and take him away at Lammas. I will treasure that weekend for the rest of my life. Scott got to see Cam’s two crazy sisters and we got to see all his favourite places up north like Baylands Wildlife Refuge.
He used to chase me with snails when we were little hoping to make me to react. But as he finally realized I was way butcher than he would ever be. For some reason at that point I nicknamed him Bugro Nelson. I have no idea why except that it had booger in it I thought that was funny. He was always trying to give me one but nothing really stuck until he called me Marge Large, He thought I had big boobs when I finally got them. A small B cup are not big boobs but he thought it was funny. I didn’t but oh, well. He finally found a name to annoy me with.
He followed me through school choirs, church choirs, Latin for 4 years competing with me in the Junior Classical League and winning ribbons. We took voice lessons in college to together and I always got more nervous for him than me on days when we had to perform. He joined the band after he discovered the trumpet which was much better than the violin he started with. Although at one point if I had heard Tijuana Taxi one more time I would have gutted him.
He was my partner in crime, a year and a half behind me. And until the day I looked him in the eye and realized very shortly he was going to be bigger than me the one I fought with the most. At one point I had a lower voice in choir than he did, an alto to his soprano until he eventually became a bass and close to a double bass at that. He went on in college to do musical theater. He was Barnaby in Babes in Toyland and I ended up doing security for him because little kids would lie in wait outside the stage door to kick him in the shins. (Barnaby is the bad guy.)
We were raised going to the HIghland Games and learning Scottish culture. We all have Scottish names. He got the best one. It was really satisfying to yell when you were bad. We competed to see who was the best baker and he always got really pissed when mom deemed me the better baker. He was the better cook.
My parents had to put a line down the car seat and the couch or we would battle and for some reason used to slap each other in the face with our feet. I have no idea how that started but it must have looked extremely funny. It didn’t make my parents too happy though.
We came out to each other one day when we supposed to be buying him dress shoes. (Size 14 gunboats). My friends had all been insisting he was gay so when we got in the car I asked him if he was gay. His answer was “What do you think? Are you?” It turned out his friends had been insisting I was gay too. He decided we had to go to the grand opening of “A Different Light” bookstore in Silver Lake so we went and had a great time meeting his friends. And ended running through the Broadway shoe dept 5 minutes before closing so we wouldn’t be lying to Mom.
My friends used to call our family, two queers and the question mark until my little sister came out too. Mom got three out of three. We didn’t know there were gay people in the family tree until after we came out and got told stories about the great aunts and uncles who refused to get married so I’m pretty sure being gay is genetic in our family.
I miss his silly smile. I miss his teasing. I miss his voice and I miss his love.
I miss you Bugro Nelson. Cameron Alexander Robb 1956-2005 and I always will.