How a man I never knew changed my life forever
When I was a little kid, Brent was my dad's best friend. Mom will tell you that Brent was Dad's best friend many years before I came along, and that he is the one who introduced them to each other. Mom will also tell you that I met Brent, but I was too little to remember.
Even though I don't remember meeting him, I know that Brent loved movies -- especially old movies. He was an aficionado. He knew why a movie was unique, or what crazy stuff had happened during shooting. He knew what actors and actresses liked each other and which ones didn't.
Brent knew that Isaac's and my education in the great classic movies was being neglected. When I was about 10, he started sending us movies that he thought we should see, that were appropriate for kids. I remember being so excited to get Brent's boxes. Isaac and I would look up all of the new movies in Dad's movie books to see what they were about. Even though I never watch VHS anymore, I still have all of the movies he sent us, because they bring back such happy memories.
I watched those videos hundreds of times over the next ten years. I can recite huge swaths of several of them. Our favorites were the "Road to..." movies, and the Marx Brothers. I still have to restrain myself from quoting them to people who will have no idea what I'm talking about. I've even gone so far as to infect my husband with my old movie love. He still swears that he doesn't like black and white movies, but he loved Harvey.
Brent is the reason that I sing Marx brothers songs. He's the reason that when all of the other little girls in my class had a crush on a member of Hansen or Leonardo Dicaprio, I had a crush on Errol Flynn. And the reason that I view the new Flight of the Phoenix movie with much skepticism. How can you replace Jimmy Stewart? All of these years later, I still don't like modern horror movies. Give me Vincent Price or Boris Karloff any day over these movies with all of their blood and gore.
Brent passed away when I was in high school. Mom tells me that we're his legacy, because he was the last of his line. He passed on his love of those movies to both me and my brother. He also passed on the knowledge that the truly great stories never get old.
Thank you, Keely. Here's Brent in about 1979, in the kitchen of the first apartment Dennis and I had after we were married. I can't believe it, but he appears to be washing dishes!
Brent has a starring role in many funny, happy memories of our college and newly-wed years in Warrensburg, Missouri. He had juvenile (Type 1) diabetes, and he died at the young age of 38. G.L.N.