When my mother was pregnant with my younger brother Pete, my father took her to see West Side Story in New York. My mom said every time the orchestra played, Pete kicked in her womb, keeping perfect time. Some people are born to play the drums. Pete played before he was born. He never stopped.
He loved music and courted danger. At age two, one day, he took my father’s LPs out of the record cabinet, spread them on the floor, and walked on them. When my father came home, he spanked Pete. The next day, Pete did the same thing again. And again, my father punished him. Every day it was the same. One day my mother tried to intervene as my brother was just starting to lay out a fresh pile of LPs. “Peter,” she said. “Do you want Daddy to spank you?” My brother shivered in fear. And continued to spread the records on the floor. Finally, my father put a combination lock on his record cabinet. My brother picked the lock.
Pete had his own ideas. Most were better than walking on Dad’s records. Many were brilliant. Some people march to their own drum. Pete marched to a whole set.
You could not stop him. He was full of life, full of energy. My idea of a great summer vacation was inhaling the musty aroma of books in an air conditioned library. But my brother was out from sunup till sundown—running around, making friends, buying candy for all the other kids in the neighborhood out of his tiny allowance. He loved other people. He paid attention to them.
I have a lifetime of stories about him. So does everyone who knew him. He was full of life, full of energy, a clock that never wound down. And now, he’s gone, leaving a Pete Zeldman shaped hole in the universe.
Goodbye, brother. I love you. I will keep your memory close. And maybe when time ends for me, too, I will see you again.
Written for Funeral Service, 31 March, 2023.