My Brother

In Loving Memory

Richard B. Reed

June 16, 1943 – November 13, 2012

On Tuesday evening this week, my healthy, exuberant, funny, life-loving brother died unexpectedly of a heart attack. It was a surprise and shock for all of his family and friends.

Of course, I’ve been thinking of him all week and the hole his absence has left.

I wanted to share some of my memories to let you get to know this brother I love.

One of my earliest memories was when he came home from college one day, and he and Paula were going to go to Disneyland for the afternoon. I was the luckiest four-year-old in the world, when they took me with them! With four other siblings in school and a baby brother at home, he chose me!

His entire career was devoted to law enforcement — starting as a military policeman for the U.S. army, and retiring as a captain in the California Highway Patrol. When he was in the service, in Germany, he sent home gifts, like this stein and little wooden scene, which came for my 7th birthday. At the time, I wondered why he sent it, asking, “I thought he was in Germany. Did he go visit France? This has an F on it.”

“No, that’s a 7 for your birthday”

I just thought they were wrong and quit arguing, but I always treasured this gift from my big brother. (It wasn’t until many years later that I finally got it — some people really did make their 7’s like that.)

When I was about eight, my mom must have asked him to teach us to swim. Perhaps she just asked him to make sure her youngest three kids wouldn’t drown if we fell in the water. He taught us to swim, not American-Red-Cross-swimming-lesson-style. This was pure Rick-style — throwing us into the pool at his apartment and helping us make it to the edge. I guess it worked; we’re still here.

Rick owned the only motorcycles I have ever ridden on. I always felt proud when he came over and took me for a ride.

When I was an adult and getting ready to move to Michigan to be closer to my future husband, he took me aside and gave me a fatherly talk. (My own father had died when I was seven, so he was a faithful fill-in.) His little talk with me included an offer to buy a plane ticket back home, just in case I needed it.

Later when I asked him to walk me down the aisle and give me away at my wedding, he said yes and wrote a three-page letter in response. In part…

My Dear “Lil” Sister,

I received your letter today. This is undoubtedly the first time I ever sent a letter back by return mail!

He gave me good wishes and guidance for my upcoming marriage, along with plenty of his signature sarcasm and ribbing, but poignant passages, like this one, have made me keep this letter for the past thirty years:

I love you so much and I would be so very proud to share June 11th with you and Keith by ‘escorting you down the aisle.’ Or, any other way you choose (excepting parking cars).

As for your other questions and comments,

  1. Fine.
  2. No.
  3. No, not quite as much.
  4. I’m glad for you, if you’re happy.
  5. Yes, I will.
  6. Thanx.
  7. See you then.

And here’s a note from Rick from my daughter’s baby book. (I really didn’t order him to write in her book!)

My own daughters have wonderful stories about him too. When they were very young, they didn’t get to see Rick and Barbara very often. However, they did know that Uncle Rick and Aunt Barbara were the ones who got them the teddy bear necklaces with a “100% genuine diamond” embedded in the tummy.

On one of their trips to Arizona, when Katie was four, they took us out to Olive Garden. We stayed late, enjoying conversation and a leisurely dinner. Someone ordered tiramisu for dessert, and Katie sampled a bite and loved it. She kept eating it until it was gone. Rick ordered her another piece.

Katie laughs about the time Rick threatened her high school boyfriend that if he didn’t take good care of her, he would come back to take care of him.

Last summer I got this birthday card from him. Look at the inside (and back, where he answers his own question) to get to know more about this warm, fun-loving man.


Back of the card, and the answer to Rick’s question.

The last time I saw Rick, we were together saying goodbye to our mother who died two years ago. As one of my sisters said, that is not enough time between generations.

We will all miss him terribly.

“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

26 thoughts on “My Brother

  1. Oh, Denise. I both wept for your loss and smiled for your blessings while reading this post. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you for sharing


  2. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful brother. I am so sorry for your loss.

  3. Wow. That’s an incredibly touching testament to a great loving brother. I hope that all of those wonderful memories will help to ease the pain of losing him, and to bring you many smiles in days to come.

  4. Denise, I am so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to him brought me to tears as I felt the loss of such a wonderful person. Your writing and your relationship shows the hope of a memory that lives on. You are in my thoughts, friend. — Sheri

  5. Denise, very sorry to read of your loss.

    Your tribute to your brother reveals the great joys a loving family gives each other. May you treasure your memories and enjoy sharing them with others as you navigate your way through the next days and weeks of living without a loved one being there.

  6. Dear Denise,
    I am sorry that you have had to deal with the sudden death of your beloved brother Rick. Thank you for sharing your memories of him with your followers. You expertly conveyed the great connection you had. He seems to have left you ” a sweet heritage of remembered joy”. This was part of a poem read at my father’s funeral after he died of a heart attack aged 51. I hope that you, like me at age 24 and in the decades since, will find comfort in that thought.
    Thinking of you at this difficult time,
    Yvonne Osborn, Melbourne, Australia ( currently traveling in stunningly beautiful Arizona).

  7. Denise,

    I know we have never met face to face, but yet I still think of you as such a dear friend. And my dear friend, I am so very sorry for your loss.
    Thank you for sharing your lovely memories.


    1. Denise,

      Your brother is an amazing man! I am so sorry for your loss my friend. From my family to yours we wish you peace & smiles in remembering all the happy memories he brought to you, friends, & his country.


  8. Denise
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories of your brother. I too am sorry for this premature loss you have. Family is so imortant, it shines through in your post. Take care
    Kathryn. NZ

  9. Denise,
    I believe your brother Rick was a bit like you. I believe he knows what you wrote, what it took you to write it, and also some of the healing that will come from writing it and always having it to look back at. You are in our thoughts and prayers as you work your way through this time and always.
    Love, Joy

  10. Denise,
    Thank you for writing about your brother. Even though I have never met him, I feel that I have met him through you. Your words are not only a tribute, but also a legacy. Your sense of humor matches his – what a pair!
    Praying for you,

  11. Oh, my dear friends,
    Thank you so much for your wishes and prayers. I am touched and blessed as I read your comments.

    Thanks for adding strength!

  12. Denise,
    I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. Your brother sounds like he has left you with some amazing memories. Thinking of you and your family as you remember him.
    (((((hugs)))))) from Missouri!

  13. My dear Denise,
    I am so sorry that you have lost your brother. At the same time I thank you for your loving tribute and sharing your personal story. He was such a large part of your life because you were kindred spirits. This was something he realized when you were that little four year old going to Disneyland. Denise, he is in your heart and will always be there.
    Sending you love and prayers.

  14. Denise,
    So sorry to read about your loss. What a fabulous way to pay tribute to your brother!
    My thoughts and prayers are with you,
    Robyn Thiessen

  15. Dear Denise,
    How lucky you are to have experienced all those wonderful memories with your big brother, Rick. And, how lucky you are to have kept all those amazing gifts!
    I am so sorry to hear of your sad loss. Virtual hugs from Sydney, Australia.
    Kind regards,
    Jeannette James

  16. Denise,
    I enjoyed hearing your experiences of your brother and can see why you loved him so dearly! Thank you for sharing a small piece of your life with us.

  17. Dear Denise,

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss! Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute of him. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family.

    Warm regards,

  18. Denise…you are in our thoughts and prayers as we prepare for the NWIRC (Northwest Iowa Reading Council) meeting tomorrow night! Thank you for sharing your brother with us through your lovely memories of him.

    God Bless You (and Yours)~Michelle

    2 Corinthians 1 (New International Version)

    1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
    To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia:
    2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    The God of All Comfort
    3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

  19. Denise –
    What a tribute – he seems like a hoot. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  20. Dear Denise,
    I am saddened to learn the news that you have lost your beloved brother. Your post is filled with so many emotions. It is a wonderful tribute and it says so much about your love for your brother that you kept his cards and gifts.

    Wishing I could do more for you – but please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Take care my friend.

  21. Krissy, JoAnn, Robyn, Jeannette, Kathy, Tracy, Michelle, Brenda, Nancy, and others,

    Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts. My time with family remembering my brother has brought many wonderful memories — lots of laughter and tears.

    Thank you,

  22. I am Keiko Ito and a student in Dr. Strange class at the University of South Alabama. I am so sorry for your loss. I really enjoyed reading your lovely memories. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories with your brother and his card and gifts with us. Take care!

    Keiko Ito

    1. Hi Keiko,
      Thank you so much for your kind comments. It was healing to write my memories down about my brother. I thank you for reading them. He was a gem, and lives on in the memories and hearts of so many who loved him. I just returned home from spending a week with family. That was great too.

      Best wishes in your class with Dr. Strange!

  23. Hello Ms. Krebs,
    My name is Alecia Baxter and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class and majoring in Elementary Education. I thought that your post about your recently deceased brother was really heartfelt. I wish that my younger brother and I had that same relationship that you and your brother had. Only problem is, I am two years older than him and he seems to take things for granted. How was your brother able to view life the way he did? I am truly sorry about your losing a family member that you have been close to and I know the feeling because about five years ago, I lost two of my aunts within a six week period. It was very heart breaking to me. I hope that you and your family will find peace from this lose.
    Take care,
    Alecia Baxter
    University of South Alabama

Comments are closed.