A word of farewell from Zane's other brother Mark

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 19, 2012

By Mark Wineka
A week ago, the town of Gettysburg, Pa., said goodbye to my brother, Zane.
The line at the funeral home went out the front door and snaked down the street. I guess there were a couple hundred people, and my sister-in-law, Madelyn, stood at the head of the line, speaking to everyone.
I think she was on her feet for four hours, hugging, crying a bit, but laughing, too, because Zane had that effect on people. Even in his casket, she said, Zane had a funny grin on his face, but she didn’t quite use the word “funny.”
Zane was a teaser, a kidder. I guess it’s an expression here, as in Pennsylvania, when I say he enjoyed giving his friends a hard time. But he also had a way of disarming them with kindness.
On birthdays or anniversaries, Zane might show his affection for friends by writing funny poems with rhyming couplets. He also relished handing out nicknames, and people cherished them as tokens of love.
At the funeral home, Madelyn introduced me to “Little Kenny.” Little Kenny was more than 300 pounds, but he was Little Kenny because his dad was, of course, “Big Kenny.”
I also met “Three-Club Charlie” and a guy Zane always called “My Other Brother Mark.”
My Other Brother Mark wore glasses, was about my height and weight and had a mustache. I saw the resemblance, though people, including My Other Brother Mark, kept assuring me we had quite different appearances.
Zane had lived about 40 years in Gettysburg. He knew people from collecting their school taxes for more than 35 years, coaching youth soccer teams and having two kids in Gettysburg schools. But most of all, he knew them through golf.
Never a great golfer, Zane still loved the social aspects of the game – and holding court with friends in the Cedar Ridge clubhouse after their rounds.
Zane came to know virtually everyone who golfed at Cedar Ridge by directing two leagues, which played on Wednesday and Friday nights. He liked to have theme nights in which all players, for example, were encouraged to wear the same color or style of shirts.
After the league play, Zane spent extra time with everybody in the clubhouse, playing darts, dancing to the old tunes on the jukebox and, yes, giving them a hard time.
During basketball season, he staunchly supported the North Carolina Tar Heels because his nephews (my sons) went to school there. He took all bets from Duke and Maryland fans.
Standing next to Madelyn at the funeral home, I didn’t have the strength or time to tell their friends about the Zane I knew growing up.
We lived in a tiny five-room house, so we shared a bedroom until he married and moved out when he was 18.
As my older brother by more than four years, Zane often was stuck being my baby-sitter during entire summers or weekend nights when our parents went out.
I am the better for it. Zane was an organizer, a detail person. We spent whole days playing Wiffle ball in the backyard, and he required that we each throw and hit the same way as the major league lineups we were pretending to be.
That meant if the starting pitcher for the Orioles that day was left-handed, I had to pitch a whole game as a southpaw, even though I was right-handed.
In the winter, he spread out a quilt on the living room floor, and it became our wrestling mat. We wrestled every weight class of the high school teams that were in the newspaper that day.
He taught me to play poker, introduced me to the Sporting News and baseball cards and gave me an appreciation of The Temptations. In our bedroom, we had to share the record player, so we fell asleep to his music.
We pooled our money together one year to buy our first golf clubs – a basic beginner’s set and bag from Spalding.
Once we spent a whole day fishing by ourselves at our grandfather’s bungalow along the Conewago Creek.
I caught two large silver carp that day. We were competitive in everything, and he wasn’t thrilled that he had come up empty.
But if we were apart for any length of time – say I was visiting our cousins in Pittsburgh – Zane would write me letters, just to fill me in on what was happening back home. How many big brothers did that?
He was captain of the high school baseball team, and four years later, so was I.
That meant a lot to me.
But I think my proudest moment came after Zane already was in Gettysburg and he attended the first playoff game our high school basketball team ever participated in.
We won. I scored 16 points and couldn’t help but keep looking over my shoulder for his approval from the bleachers.
Zane and Madelyn raised a great daughter and son, by the way, and doted over their five grandchildren.
I forgot to mention that about every other person in the funeral home line last week was wearing a loud, Hawaiian-print shirt. You see, that was the theme for Zane’s funeral.
His casket was filled with various things. A crossword puzzle book, His golf shoes. A Chicago Bears souvenir – because he loved that team and couldn’t help but saying, “Da Bears.”
Lying there, Zane also was wearing one of his Hawaiian shirts.It really did bring out that “funny” grin on his face.
I will miss it terribly.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263,or mwineka@salisburypost.com.