To My Friend, Brett

Mulligan's Irish House in Poughkeepsie became kind of like my unofficial home base. From my monthly solo/acoustic shows, to my bi-monthly solo/acoustic shows, to my Over The Edge Album Listening Party (and even to a bachelor party I threw there one time), my appearances at Mulligan's Irish House were epic - often epically under-attended, that is. But more often than not, you would find, sitting at the bar drinking a diet soda, my friend Brett. He would show up, hang out, make jokes with the rest of the regulars who would frequently come out to see me, and proceed to heckle me from the bar like Waldorf & Statler. And he could never get enough of constantly requesting that I play "MMMBop," by Hanson (which I never did), getting on the mic for background vocals in "Free Fallin'," by Tom Petty (which he did numerous times), and singing along to "Forever Young," by Rod Stewart (which I had learned just for him).

But my history with Brett extends back much further than shows at Mulligan's Irish House - more than 20 years, in fact. Brett and his brother, Dan, were my camp counselors when I attended YWCA Camp Cedarcliff - a small summer day camp that I always went to because my mom worked at the YWCA, and at which I ended up as a counselor myself for my first job. Every two weeks or so at camp there was an event called "Parent Sharing," where the families of campers would come and the different groups of kids would perform skits or songs, sometimes based on a theme. One time, under Brett's direction, my group performed an infamously bad rendition of Rod Stewart's "Forever Young," which has become the stuff of legend and inspired me learning the song for him. It was always performed tongue-in-cheek.

When I was younger, my family and Brett's family were both mutually close with my brother-in-law's family, so he would always be around. Summer parties, holiday meals, New Years celebrations, and late-night movie screenings thanks to my brother-in-law's movie theater connections (I still can't believe that he didn't like Galaxy Quest, by the way - I mean seriously), and even though he was a decade older than me and had been my camp counselor, as time went on and I got older he became much more of a peer and a friend than a "grown up." Maybe that was because I was growing up, or that he had such an irreverent sense-of-humor, or an affable personality, or his closeness to my brother-in-law, or a combination of all of it. Brett was a "brother from another mother" to my brother-in-law, so just like my brother-in-law's actual brother he because a part of my extended family. When my sister got married in Vermont in 2006, Brett and I shared a room at the inn. A couple years ago when he directed a sanitized, age-appropriate version of the play Election at the middle school where he worked, I was there to support him the way that he had always been there to support me at Mulligan's.

We got word yesterday that Brett suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, and it's shocking for everyone who knew him - friends, family, and friends who were family. It's surreal, to be sure, and being so far away from home all I can really do is share a few memories of my friend. And maybe have a diet Pepsi in his name.


In an mmmbop...


  • Jen Kinyon
    Jen Kinyon
    I am sorry for your loss Steve- and my condolences to Carrie and Jeremy as well.

    I am sorry for your loss Steve- and my condolences to Carrie and Jeremy as well.

  • Michele Brettholtz
    Michele Brettholtz
    Steve, That was beautiful. Thank you! I'll let Ellen and Dan know you posted this. xox

    Steve, That was beautiful. Thank you! I'll let Ellen and Dan know you posted this. xox

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