James Peter McGinty
(March 15, 1962 – December 19, 2022)
My brother Jim has died. More importantly, the father of four wonderful young women and a great young man, who were brought into the world by he and Trish van Dusen McGinty, has died. Brother to my brothers and sister. Son of Jack and Mary of Lynn. And so much more.
This hard word came Wednesday from Baltimore. As family we are spread around the states these days. So phone and Zoom and texts have filled these next days with voices of disbelief, grief and sorrow, shock, and much more. Today has brought a huge rainstorm, the same storm that has covered other places with snow. Here, its drenching rain and massive winds seem to express something of what I, at least, am feeling.
Every life is complex, and many deaths as well. It is the moment we are forced, if we are honest, to begin to seek to understand who a person has been, not to fail to appreciate all the good, and neither to fail to admit failings (which every one of us definitely have). That’s our work, and it’s also the best way to honor our loved one.
There will be a lot to say, and voices to hear, in time to come. We will gather to remember and to pray for Jim soon, but we do not know yet when or where. For now, I remember how he could talk with a person he had just met for five minutes and cement a friendship. I remember how closely he listened one day on the beltway outside DC years ago when I shared with him something of great importance in my life. How well he listened, and with what understanding and compassion he responded.
As is so often the case in our times, we did not always agree on politics and issues and the rest. For sure. But I never felt less than connected at the cellular level to him. Brother is brother. Which is a beautiful thing, and also an exquisite source of pain right now. And for the wonderful humans who are linked to him in so many other ways, the complexity, the pain, the questions, are all there.
There is also in all this, and in all else, the One whose birth we are about to celebrate. I commend my brother with absolute confidence into the hands of Mercy. For two days now, in real pain, I have been comforted by an image that simply came to me of our Mom and Dad with him, hugging him, embracing him, loving him. That’s the goal of all lives, I believe. That’s the finish line.
Jim knew joy and hope and health. He also knew sorrow and desperation and sickness. He knew suffering, and sometimes that suffering touched others as well. That was important, but all of it was, including the joy and the love.
When we were little kids, Jim and I shared a bedroom there at 75 Eastern Avenue in Lynn. Two twin beds. He didn’t go to sleep right away. He wanted to talk. I used to make up stories and tell them with as much expression and verve as I could muster. He would laugh and add his own embellishments. Decades later he remembered the names I made up of some of the characters.
All those stories were big adventures, with challenges and setbacks, losses and victories. But every one of them ended with our going to sleep in that quiet room in security and peace, knowing that after all – after all – after all – we were surrounded by love. That is my prayer for my brother these days, and for the rest of my days.
With love, my brother, with love.