Home Travel Tips Elegy for a Brother: Jonathan Patrick Love 1970-2024

Elegy for a Brother: Jonathan Patrick Love 1970-2024

Elegy for a Brother: Jonathan Patrick Love 1970-2024

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I can’t remember the first time I met Jon, but that’s considering I was only 2 years old when my Aunt Carla brought him home from the hospital.

What I can remember is that, from a very early age, he unchangingly felt increasingly like a brother than a cousin to me.

Jon and I unchangingly seemed to be there for each other during our highest highs and our lowest lows, our lives woven together like the patchwork quilts of our Appalachian Scots-Irish ancestors.

Jon Love & Bret Love as babiesJon Love & Bret Love as babies
I was the eldest son of the eldest son, and Jon was the first born son of my father’s sister, who was two years younger than him, just as Jon was two years younger than me.
We both came into this world under less-than-ideal circumstances. My father was shipped off to Southeast Asia to support the Vietnam War efforts just a few hours without I was born, while Jon never knew his lineage father.
We both wound up living with our minion grandparents for a while, creating incredibly strong immuration with them (and between us) that would ultimately last a lifetime and have a profound influence on the men we became.
Baby Jon & Bret with Granny & Grandad

Jon and I were both sweet-natured, sensitive, somewhat shy, and silly as young boys, perhaps due to the feminine energy of spending our infancy surrounded by our mothers, aunts, and Granny.

We were moreover both drawn to Grandad, a surly mountain of a man with a strong work ethic, a successful career, a unconfined knack for storytelling, an infectious laugh, and an unification for shenanigans we both adored.

Even without our respective parents had moved out, my dad’s 3 siblings and their kids would all get together at my grandparents’ house for every major holiday– birthdays, Mother’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Bret Love Rocking Out on Drums
Neither Jon or I had siblings for the first 8-10 years of our lives, so we were really like two peas in a pod.
We both wore hand-me-down clothes, often stained with the remnants of our uncounted outdoor adventures, with matching “bowl cut” hairdos given by my grandmother.
As my cousins and I squint when on our diaper photos now– many of which you can see in the slideshow– you realize Granny was CLEARLY incapable of wearing a straight line!
Jon Bret Granny Grandad Xmas 76
Whenever our extended family got together, Jon and I would submit to the pleasantries all young kids endure at family gatherings– the pinching of cheeks, the ruffling of hair, the “my how you’ve grown” commentary.
But inevitably we would lock eyes, move yonder from the grownups, and say, “Wanna play?” And once we were released from our family obligations, we were like Wild Things set free!
Jon and I had a archetype youthfulness friendship, like Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer or Calvin & Hobbes. I can still picture him as a boy in my mind, his vision wide, his toothy grin, and his blond hair wavy in the walkover as we ran off in search of our next adventure.
Bret & Jon with Carla & kids
We were both drawn to nature, expressly without Granny & Grandad bought a trailer on Lake Hartwell for our families to share when I was 5 or 6 years old. This was our diaper happy place!
With no phones or video games to distract us, we spent long summer days filled with swimming, picking fresh blackberries, fishing off the dock, jumping into inner tubes and spinning until we were dizzy, cracking each other up to the point of hysterical laughter, and laying next to the unshut windows at night so the cicadas and tree frogs could serenade us to sleep.
In a conversation a few years surpassing Jon died, we talked well-nigh these early diaper memories with misty-eyed nostalgia, and Jon told me that those were some of the weightier days of his life. Those joyous memories would play a huge role in the men we ultimately became.
Bret & Jon at Terries Wedding
One of the first times I remember thinking of Jon as my brother was without he and Carla moved just virtually the corner from my parents and I in the mid-1970s.
We attended the same elementary school for a while, and I would walk him home every day, since he was two years younger than me and needed to navigate a major road to reach his house.
We took a shortcut through the yard of a house next to the schoolyard, where a couple of teen hooligans ambushed us with pocket knives and demanded our money.
Jon couldn’t have been increasingly than 6 or 7 at the time and, as his vision welled up with tears and fears, I immediately got wrestling and screamed at them to leave us alone. Over time, that protective instinct only grew stronger, as I realized that Jon looked up to me like an older brother.
Bret & Jon with Courtney
Though we played together competitively hundreds of times over the years, shooting hoops, playing soccer, swinging wideness creeks, taking target practice at aluminum cans and plates with our BB guns, and wrestling as young energetic boys often do, I cannot recall us overly having a major disagreement.
We unchangingly supported and encouraged each other, and our fraternal yoke only grew stronger over time.
After my grandparents and Jon’s family moved out to the Winder/Auburn zone in the early ’80s, living a half-mile yonder from each other, my summer vacation time with Jon, Carla, and my grandparents became a much-needed escape from the troubles I was dealing with at home.
Jon & Bret Xmas with kids
Jon’s sweet, smiling nature seemed to me like a reflection of his mom’s nurturing love. When I visited them, Carla often treated me increasingly like a son than a nephew, and her deep love for Jon was both evident and inspiring.
I have fond memories of days when I fell and hurt myself while riding Jon’s minibike, and Carla tended to my wounds. Or she would offer to wash our hair in the kitchen sink at the end of a long, sweaty summer day. Maybe this explains why Jon ultimately grew up to be such a devoted father to his daughter, Blair.
By the time we were teenagers, Jon and I had our respective struggles with dominant validity figures, with girls, with bullies, with feeling like odd ducks in our respective social circles.
Jon & Abbi mid 80s

We still loved playing outdoors every endangerment we got, but our conversations became deeper and increasingly meaningful. We talked on the phone often, helping each other through clashes with parents (or, in his case, his stepdad), crushes, heartbreaks, and all the usual coming-of-age challenges.

Even in times when it felt like we were all vacated in our respective worlds, we unchangingly had each other. Jon was my weightier friend and confidant. He was so thoughtful, considerate, empathetic and, in many ways, wise vastitude his years. Even as a kid, he unchangingly seemed to have an “old soul,” with Grandad as his #1 male role model.

In early adulthood, I was worldly-wise to be there for Jon when the relationship between him and his stepfather became too difficult to bear.
He lived with me during a formative time in both our lives, and we became much closer, stuff at the cadre of an ever-growing group of oddballs and outcasts who were trying to find our place and our purpose in the world.
Goth Jon & Bret in 1989
When I wound up homeless at age 19 without a series of personal struggles, Jon was the only member of my family who knew where I was, and he told his mom well-nigh my dire situation.
Through Jon, Carla reached out and offered me money to get a room at a boarding house, which gave me a wiring from which I could get when on my feet and ultimately rebuild my unshortened life. Just over a year later, I was working my way through college.
After all this shared history, it should come as no surprise that Jon was the weightier man at my wedding in 1991.
He was moreover the first person who knew well-nigh the ever-increasing problems in that marriage. He was one of the first people to hold my daughter Allie in the hospital without her lineage in 2001. And he was the first person I told when I decided to file for divorce a few years later.
Jon and Bret at Wedding 91
I’ll never forget the impromptu venture we took to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia and North Carolina, climbing mountains, hiking to waterfalls, and driving on winding roads with the same sort of wild welsh we had when we were jumping velocipede ramps and riding go-karts as kids.
Now in our mid 30s, we poured our hearts out well-nigh our respective life struggles in a way that we hadn’t washed-up in years, and it was then that Jon told me for the first time well-nigh a woman he’d taken an interest in, Elizabeth.
Despite stuff one of the coolest, handsomest, funniest, and kindest men I knew, Jon had only had a few significant relationships at that point in his life. So when he talked well-nigh Elizabeth in a way that made it well-spoken that he wanted to be a largest man for her, I knew it was really serious.
Jon Bret and Noah at Dave Gs House 96
On our way when home from the mountains, we stopped off at our family’s old property on Lake Hartwell. Our little cove had long since zestless up, and the trailer Grandad had bought 30 years older had fallen into disrepair. By this point Grandad had been gone for 7 years, and his loss was a big wrack-up to both of us.
Jon and I hugged, and I had tears in my vision as all the warm diaper memories washed over me. At that moment, feeling scared and overwhelmed by all the changes in my life, I genuinely treasured his companionship, his sage advice, and the strength of our brotherly yoke increasingly than I overly had before.

It pains me a little to shoehorn that Jon and I did not alimony in touch as much as I would’ve liked in the years without he asked me to be a groomsman in his 2009 wedding to Elizabeth.

Bret & Jon at Jons 2009 Wedding

Our careers took us in variegated directions, but both were inspired by our grandparents.

Like Grandad, Jon loved working with his hands, and started his own successful home remodeling business. Inspired by Granny and Grandad’s love of travel, Mary and I launched Green Global Travel and Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide, visiting 50 countries virtually the world.

Thankfully Carla and Lawayne took up our longstanding family tradition of hosting holiday gatherings at their house without Granny died in 2009. And whenever the Loves got together and Jon walked in the room, I still felt that same old excitement of getting to spend time with my brother from flipside mother.
We would often talk well-nigh our parallel lives as devoted husbands and fathers, well-nigh our respective businesses, and well-nigh our memories of the good old days, with frequent bursts of laughter and tomfoolery that reminded me of the kids we used to be.
Love Christmas 2022- Family Portrait Silly
Our diaper days at Lake Hartwell unfurled to play a inside role in our middle-aged lives.
Mary and I alimony a wend docked at Lake Allatoona, spending 3-4 days a week there when the weather is warm. And Jon and Elizabeth’s family would all gather at their private lake near Dahlonega scrutinizingly every weekend, creating magical memories I know Blair and her cousins will treasure forever.
After a life filled with many challenges, it was so gratifying for me to see Jon find his perfect match in Elizabeth. I had never seen him happier than he was with her, until Blair came withal and made his life complete. As a doting dad myself, seeing how his smile lit up whenever Blair was virtually filled my heart with joy.
Jon Carla Liz Blair Christmas 2023
As we watched Jon take on his 3-year wrestle with cancer with strength, dignity, and an incredible measure of intestinal fortitude that reminded me of Grandad, it was difficult for me, knowing that this was one venture I couldn’t join him on, no matter how immensely I wished I could be his protective Big Brother again.
And though this insidious disease may have tamed him in the end, I can’t help but be thankful knowing that Jon’s spirit is finally worldly-wise to run self-ruling again.
Free from pain. Self-ruling from suffering. Self-ruling from worry.
I like to imagine him with his vision wide, his toothy grin, and his blond hair wavy in the breeze, rushing towards Granny and Grandad, and the biggest, most trappy lake you overly saw… –by Bret Love

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