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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Remembering brother Jim five years after his passing

By Ted Slowik

Five years ago today, on March 2, 2009, we lost our brother Jim. Third-oldest of the 12 Slowik siblings, Jim died suddenly of a heart attack. He was 59.

I've written about Jim before, and how his passing profoundly affected my outlook on life. When he died I was 44, and thought, "Hey, I might only have 15 years left. What do I really want to do with my time?"

So that's when I set out in earnest to become a better songwriter, musician, guitarist, vocalist, performer, storyteller and recording artist. No, I'm not trying to become a famous rock star. Creating music makes me happy, and over the last few years my improvement is apparent to anyone who knows me. I'm just trying to be the best I can be. In doing so I've become happier than I've ever been.

Little did I know that my brush with death would come not 15 years but a mere five years after Jim's passing. Two weeks ago, I survived my heart attack because my wife Jo was there to call 911 for me. Jim lived alone, and though he was very happy living his life he didn't have anyone there for him, and he didn't make it.

Jim really loved open-wheel auto racing, and had taken up freelance writing for a fan magazine called the Piston Patter. He'd call me for writing and interviewing advice and was loving the opportunity to talk to famous racing legends like Carl Haas and Paul Newman. He loved being close to the excitement, and would travel the country to volunteer as a security worker in the paddocks at races. Jim was very, very happy.

So while I appreciate that my own near-death experience will cause me to take better care of myself, Jim's passing had already taught me that every day is a gift and that it's important to make the most of life. So share your gifts with others, because the more you think of others the happier you will be.