Brian was traveling with his dog Bear. a service dog, with the sole responsibility of alerting Brian to take his meds several times per day. He was coming from Harrisburg, PA. His niece (and only living relative) invited him to stay with her while he was getting treatments for the Stage Two tumor embedded in his lower back. He had taken a four-day train trip from Washington State to be with his niece. But when he got to Harrisburg, she told him by phone that she’d changed her mind and did not want him to live with her after all. So, Brian and Bear boarded the Greyhound for St. Louis, his hometown and the place where he was treated for a similar cancer scare several years back. “I’ll either be in a hospital bed or living under a bridge,” Brian said.
When I gave Brian the opening on the past lives question, he jumped in. He lived his first life as a Union soldier, and was killed during the Battle of Gettysburg, during the summer of 1869. Gettysburg was fought in 1863, but I imagine that past life details can be a little sketchy, so I let it pass.
In his second life, Brian said he was Frank Lloyd Wright. I said, “You mean you lived during the same period as Frank Lloyd Wright?” “No,” he said. “I was Frank Lloyd Wright.” From that point on in the discussion, Brian spoke in the first person, as Frank.
I’ve always been sort of a Frank Lloyd Wright-o-phile myself. I’ve read many biographies on Wright and have toured his Taliesin Estates in Wisconsin and Scottsdale. So, I tested Brian’s knowledge of all things Wright. He never skipped a beat and spoke elegantly about his favorite buildings, his failures, the myriad tragedies that marked his life. I asked: “Tell me one thing about your life that nobody would know.” He leaned in and said: “When I visited Japan after the war, my friend Emperor Hirohito gave me a brick that he had cast in gold. It was from one of the many buildings in Tokyo that had been leveled. He said the brick was a reminder that the palace I built for him was still standing.”
As we approached St. Louis, Frank was gone and Brian was back, telling me that most of his current life was spent as a carny. In fact, his primary carnival job was to create and build new rides and make sure the remaining rides were working properly. “I guess my life as Frank prepared me for what was to come next,” he said.
With that, he took Bear’s leash and gathered his luggage. “Hey Frank,” I said, as he turned to leave. “I wanted you to know that I loved your work.” He smiled, grateful, I assume, for the acknowledgment. He and Bear walked away. They were home.