My brother Alan recently passed away. He was 59 years old, but he was the baby of the family. Heart disease runs in our family. It took the life of my dad, and now both of my brothers. My dad in 1967 at the age of 53. My older brother in 1994, at the age of 48, and now my younger brother on June 20, 2012.

Alan had open heart surgery back in March. It was a double bypass and his prognosis was good, if he stayed away from both the alcohol, and the cigarettes that he always craved. I say craved, because he had been a heavy drinker, and a heavy smoker. He never went anywhere without his 6 pack of beer, and his pack of cigarettes.

I could preach about the evils of tobacco and alcohol, but that is common knowledge. Modern medicine is dealing with ways to keep these people alive longer despite their destructive habits. Although, I will admit that there is always an exception to the rule, where someone you might know enjoyed their drinks, and their cigarettes until the day they passed away in their sleep at the ripe old age of 80+ years. The men in my family wern't so lucky.

It breaks a sister's heart to lose a brother. He chose his lifestyle, and I realized years ago, that my words about his habits would fall on deaf ears. So I enjoyed my time with him, and hoped he would be the exception.

Alan was a lot like my dad. Quiet, and reserved, and basically good inside. He never set out deliberately to hurt anyone. He stepped up big time at the end of our mother's life, and I am forever grateful for that.

My dad always said that our "end time" is already figured out by the man upstairs so live your life the best that you can. I guess that's what all three of these men did, but it doesn't mean that my sister and I hurt a little less, because the void is there. The what if's, and could have's and should have's are both spoken and unspoken by both of us.

My watch beeps each day at 12:30, just as it coincidentally did the moment, my sister and I watched him die in the hospital. I like to think it is a remembrance of my Baby Brother's Life. It may not have been perfect, but many including Alan live their life on their own terms.