Yesterday, I had a conversation with my brother that was both mundane and fantastic. He asked me how the kids are doing. I asked him how his Thanksgiving was. I reminded him that he used to beat me up when we were kids. “That’s what big brothers are for!” he responded. As conversations go this one was quite ordinary, yet, it was the best conversation that I’ve had with him in decades.
There is a lot of talk about wine in context. The theory goes that the whole experience of wine is more than just the elements in the wine. Our perceptions are colored by our environment, the ambiance of the room, the people we are with, our mood at the time, the memories that we will link with that particular wine. All of this will go into our perception and evaluation of the wine. Though I have read this many times, I have been a holdout as believers go. I’d like to believe that there is an objective, factual, perhaps even measurable element to evaluating wine. And there is, yet these outside elements that have nothing to do with the wine itself will color our perception even of the factual and measurable.
Jim Barry Lodge Hill Shiraz is from Clare Valley Australia. The 2012 still has its purple hue, with earthy dark fruit aromas and flavors of black cherry and spice. This is a big bodied wine with a tangy acidity. Well made and delicious by itself, it was even more delicious over the holiday week-end. There were environmental elements that had nothing to do with the wine, but greatly enhanced the experience of the wine. My son was home from college. I spent two days doing nothing but baking, cooking and eating. Those factors made a really good glass of wine truly great and memorable.
It has been over 30 years since the day I drove my brother home from the hospital. We were both still teenagers. He was arguing with me, trying to convince me, but more probably trying to convince himself of all the reasons why he didn’t have to take his medicine. Out of frustration I said without thinking, ‘You are a paranoid schizophrenic. You have to take your medicine!’ What followed was a devastating silence as the thought slowing entered my mind, ‘he hasn’t heard his diagnosis, yet.’ And idiot that I am, I had just blurted it out. Well, there it was. I couldn’t take it back. After a few more moments of neither one of us saying anything my brother turned to me and said, ‘But, I’m a happy paranoid schizophrenic.’
Over the decades my brother has been in some very dark places where he couldn’t be reached. Even the times when he was able to look me in the eyes and talk to me, I could tell part of his mind was somewhere else. I have wondered many times where the personality that was my brother had gone.
Yesterday I spoke to my brother for the first time in decades. He was there in the conversation with me 100%. Maybe he is experiencing a spontaneous recovery as some schizophrenics do in middle age. Maybe he is on the right combination of medicine. Maybe he was just having a good day. I don’t know, and won’t know until sometime in the future. All I know right now is that yesterday I had what would by its elements be evaluated as a very ordinary conversation with my brother. It was the best conversation that we’ve had in over 30 years.