Good News: he's still alive, so there's time to write to him. Bad News: he has only a week or two before lymphoma kills him. Good News: he's at home with his wife, and according to a mutual acquaintance "is still cracking jokes".

Clotho spins the thread of life, Lachesis measures it, and Atropos cuts it off. Sometimes far too soon.

Brian is a tough nut. I met him a few years ago when chance placed my office near his. He was tall, crew-cut, fortyish, and dead boring ... until you got to know him. He was head of the "Futures Team" in the information technology group. Our conversations began with advanced computing but quickly moved on to another of his loves: home beer brewing. Brian was serious when serious was needed, but he knew how to organize a party, and his good humor and high energy helped make everybody in the outfit happier and more productive.

I learned a lot from you, Brian. In memory, with pun intended:

Brian Levetzow --- Strong Spirits

P.S. Bad News: on 6 February 2003, the day that I heard of his situation and mailed him a last letter, Brian died. R.I.P.

TopicProfiles - TopicPersonalHistory - 2003-02-10

note added on 12 February 2003:

Oddly enough my cousin Bob found your comments while goofing around on the web. I, along with the rest of my family, have just returned from Maryland to bury our little brother. We are comforted by the fact that Brian was loved by so many good people in his adult home on the east coast.

Your assessment of Brian is right on the button. We in the family often commented on his amazing abililty to say so much with so few words. The rest of us are chatterboxes but Brian was wired completely different than us. We often called him "Data" (Star Trek) based on his abilities.

We will all miss him. Thanks for your kind words. He was the last born (#7) but the first to go. God bless him.

Regretfully, #6

In Memory of Brian Levetzow - by LaNedra Wright

When I first met Brian, I thought "Oh lawd he is big." Then when he told me he was the baby of the bunch I thought, "Good lawd, they come bigger than you?" I didn't quite know what to make of Brian at first. He was a bit of a go-getter, looking for things to do and always dragging me along with him. I mean dragging, because I was happy with my routine with occasion from time to time to learn something new. I didn't like moving on to something new until I had mastered what I have just learned. But as it turns out that was just the way Brian worked. His mind needed that kind of stimulation. And let's talk about his mind for a minute. Brian had the uncanny ability to understand the seemingly most complex things, in a short period of time, and then be able to explain it to a person in terms they could understand. He would be so patient. You could ask him the same question a hundred times and still he would show the same patience as if it were your first time asking him. So every time Brian learned something new, I was learning too.

Brian was a good friend. That's a rare thing to find at a workplace. To find people at work that you would actually socialize with outside of work, people you are genuinely concerned and cared about. I will remember how enthusiastic he was about keeping the party fund for the office and planning the breakfast and birthday parties. Oh boy did we hurt ourselves eating those breakfasts. All we could do was sit there and groan "That was good." It was like being home and Brian was a part of that.

Brian loved talking about how to brew beer. He would explain the process to you and that is what Brian was about, learning the process, the whats and the whys. He would tell you the difference between an ale, lager, stout, and the regular beers and how they are made and why one is better than the other.

I remember one day walking by his and Lisa's office and I heard Parliament Funkadelic music. And anyone who knows P-Funk music knows it is music you move to or at least bob your head to. So I stuck my head in and asked Lisa if that was her music. She said no. I turned and looked at Brian with a surprised look on my face for sure, because he wasn't a bobbing one and because the fact that he would be listening to P-Funk amazed me. I asked him, "Brian, what do you know about some P-Funk?" Then to my astonishment he rattled off not only all of the song titles I knew, but several I haven't heard of. I was like, "Oh, you got the funk on you."

I could go on and on about the memories I have of Brian, like the time we sang "I Feel Pretty" to Les when he purchased some red fingernail polish. Or the time he kept me from falling when I nearly passed out at work. There was the time he didn't go to training so that he could make sure I was ok when Lisa told me she got another job.

He was always a caring, smart, patient man. He was so nice to me. He even came and visited me in my new office. He gave me a Salvador Dali art book after we had gotten back from Florida where we went to the Dali museum. You would have thought I won the lottery when he gave me that book. He asked me, "Who's your buddy?" I said, "You?" Then he gave me the book; I gave him a big scream and a hug.

I remember when he told Lisa and myself the news. My heart sank. It started to ache. It was in October 2002. He asked for our prayers. I told him he can't get sick now, I still need him. He said he would get confirmation later, but they suspected it was lymphoma. He went in to go get a persistent cough he had had for a month checked. They did an x-ray of his chest and found a mass on his lung. They did confirm it was lymphoma and treatment was to begin immediately.

I have never felt so helpless to do something. In my household, I am the fix-it person --- thing, person, or animal. I could make it better. My Mom says I have the touch. I touch people and they feel better. Her hands hurt her sometime and I will rub them, saying a prayer or thinking good thoughts or visualizing her doing what she likes to do. She always feels better. But I couldn't do this for Brian, except pray. I said to Lisa, let's make a basket for him with his favorite things, chocolate, coffee, cookies, and a M. C. Escher coloring book with crayons. We got together for lunch and Lisa and I came strolling in, late because of me, with this big basket full of his favorite things. He let out a "Oh you guys". We gave him a hug and he razzed me for being late. He didn't look any different or sick or anything. So it was hard to accept that he was sick, because he didn't look like it. Especially since he had had one treatment by that time. You have these preconceptions of how a person with cancer looks, face drawn in, frail, think, gray. It was kind of awkward. I couldn't stop looking at him. He asked me about my love life. I told him it was non-existing. We all talked about a lot of things.

As time went by, I would see Brian on Sametime from time to time and we would chat. I would ask him how he was doing and he would always say good; he never complained or said woe is me. Then I just got used to thinking he would be there, fell back into the routine that everything is all right. Lisa called me and told me that he was in the hospital and he only had a week or two to live. I cried. Through the tears I managed to ask her when are we going to see him. She said Wednesday. We ended up seeing him the next day, Tuesday.

Lisa and I got to the hospital and to his room. The curtains were partially drawn and you could see part of the bed with these legs bent because they were too long. We could see people off in the other part of the room hugging and crying and saying comforting words to one another. We kind of stood back and watched, behind the curtain, I guess for fear of what we would see. The preconceptions popped up in my head again. I just knew for sure he would not look like himself. Like death was there ready and waiting.

Kathy came and greeted Lisa and me. She kept telling us how much he loved us. So we walked in slowly, peeping around the curtain. Lisa goes up to his right hand side and holds his hand as his wife tells him that we are there. I walk up to his left side. Brian looks at Lisa very intently, without saying anything, but as if he was trying to say something or just acknowledging that she was there. I stood on the other side, just rubbing his arm. Noticing he didn't look sick, it gave me hope that perhaps he was going to be ok, that he was going to pull through. We met one of his brothers and his daughter. We talked about stuff with Brian's brother. Brian was under heavy sedation. He was moving in slow motion and talking a little above a whisper. He managed to joke with us. I asked his daughter, Hannah, had she done any coloring. She said one, but her Dad had done a few. Brian whispered, "And they turned out better too." We were there for what seemed a long time. There was one touching moment when his wife was trying to feed him some sherbet. Brian had to sit up and rub his legs because they were getting stiff. And while he was sitting up, his wife was trying to feed him some sherbet. Brian raised his hand to push his glasses back and accidentally hit her glasses. He stopped and slowly raised his hand to touch her face and you could see how much he loved her. We were getting ready to go. I grabbed his left hand and he opened his eyes and just looked at me. Not saying a word. I would like to think he was trying to say, "LaNedra, you have learned what you needed to learn from me and you will just be fine. Don't be scared and don't spaz so much." I wanted to tell him I loved him and he was as good a friend as anyone could ask for. And I wouldn't spaz so much. But all I could manage to say was, "We will see you later." Holding on to the hope that we would.

Brian went home Wednesday. He went to his final home Thursday. I have nothing but good memories of Brian Thomas Levetzow. I still have his name on my Sametime. I look at my Salvador Dali art book from time to time and dance like no one is watching when a Parliament Funkadelic song comes on. He was as good a friend as anyone could ask for.

- LaNedra K. Wright -

Brian was such a wonderful person because he comes from a wonderful family, and a very special and loving mother, who is my friend.

(correlates: GuiltAndShame, PassingInspiration, Zhurnal Three, ...)