Column: Terry Teitler Braun Remembers Brother Stuart Teitler

Sister Terry Teitler Braun remembers her brother Stuart Teitler, who died earlier this month in Albany, CA.

[Editor's Note: A memorial service for is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 29, at on Solano Avenue. Terry Teitler shared these words for the service.]

I’m sorry that I’m not there with all of you today to celebrate  life, but I’m so grateful that you are all there together to honor him today as a community. Already I have expressed my feelings in words Stuart would never have associated with himself – celebrate, community, honor, and darling.

But Stu was darling – an absolutely wonderful big brother to me growing up. While his intensity, and obsessive collecting was extreme it was always mitigated by the joy of the consecutive passions he shared with me.

He was 5 years old by the time I came along to ever so slightly diffuse his position as the target in my parent’s cross hairs. But despite the age difference he was, as I’m sure you’d guess, kind and accessible to me. My earliest memories are of watching my handsome brother playing with his big castle and telling me the story of each knight he had collected or finding him in deep concentration drawing a beautiful horse, always with his tongue out touching the corner of his left upper lip.

Later I’d come home from ballet and teach him how to spot and twirl, and still later we would dance to his honky-tonk collection, which was followed by his great R&B collection and the lesson he gave me on how to do the slop, which we both loved. We laughed a lot, both being funny people, and occasionally he would tell me that it was a good and unusual quality that I was funny because most girls weren’t, which both boosted and delighted me and perhaps made me value getting laughs more than tears when I performed.

And much later, despite the geographic distance that separated us, we would talk on the phone for hours, validating one another’s experience of growing up together in that very difficult household.  Reminiscing, Stu and I would both laugh and cry, and always declare our love for each other before saying good-bye. I will deeply miss our phone visits.

My darling brother Stu was trustworthy – you could always depend on him to be kind never mean, and to always be truthful. He was so bright, so talented, and yet so totally dismissive of his many talents and achievements.

Stu always thought he lacked courage – that I was the child who possessed our father’s courage, and tragically he viewed our father’s identical death many years ago, as a courageous act. While this view both saddens and angers me, I am attempting to accept that my kind-hearted broken brother felt a sense of rare pride and courage at the very end.

I am heartbroken that Stu is gone and will always miss and love him. I hope that his last act, which he viewed as courageous, infused him with the sense of self-respect he never could achieve while he was alive. The fact that he is finally at peace brings me a measure as well. And it also helps that you are together today to pay your respects to Stu, because in truth that was what he always longed for the most – respect.

Once again, thank you so very much – all of you for coming together today. I would also like to express a special heartfelt thanks to my dearest cousin Jackie Fellows, for helping Stu sort out his life and finances for all the years following our mother’s death, and to Edward Fields and to Suzanne Zeman, for all their help and support at this very difficult time.

--Terry Teitler Braun


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