As I headed down Montgomery Street bright and early this morning, I caught site of a catering truck parked at the curb, serving up goodies to the folks on their way to the office.
Suddenly, without warning, a whiff of the tasty grub triggered memories of my youth and one of my older brothers, Brian.
When I resided on Old Weston Road in Toronto - at about the age of seven - the Hunt family down the street owned a catering company.
When one of the daughter's got hitched, Mr. Hunt gave the happy young couple one catering truck to start up their own business.
At that juncture, Linda and her betrothed (Ed Soulier), packed up and headed off to Windsor (Ontario) to start off fresh in life on their own.
Years later, I was invited to visit the couple at their upscale home on trendy Victoria Drive, so that I could visit my brother who was now in the Ed's employ at the catering business.
Brian and I were separated many years prior, when I was made a ward of the State, and placed in a foster home in the suburbs.
Today, a flurry of memories from the past floated to the surface of my consciousness - some touching, some sad.
Fondly, I recalled a game Brian and I used to play late at night after my mother tucked us into bed and the lights were down.
We’d take turns faintly writing an initial of a famous person on each other backs, at which point, there was a concerted playful attempt by each of us to figure out who the individual was.
Over the years, another flashback often troubled me, as much as I try have tried to block the unpleasant images out.
One evening I was rummaging through the closet in the bedroom just before Christmas, when I stumbled upon a box with my name handwritten on the lid, which contained a few spanking-new toys.
Obviously, they were a handful of presents my mother was intending to wrap for the big day.
Inside, one particular toy I spied, caught my fascination.
Now, I couldn’t wait until the 25th of December to open my gifts.
Unfounately, wher the joyous day arrived, I was in for a shock.
As I was opening my presents, my brother Brian unwrapped one of his packages to reveal that the delightful toy - which once sat in my box in the closet - was gifted to him for some inexplicable reason.
Did Brian locate the boxes in the closet, too, and make a switcheroo?
To this day, I sadly shake my head, and still wonder.
Unfortunately, my last encounter with Brian was not a pleasant one, either.
One summer, I was employed at the CN Tower restaurant part-time, when the Maitre D’ strode up to me out-of-the-blue.
“A gentleman downstairs is here demanding to see you. He claims he is your brother," he hissed in my ear.
As it turned out, Brian heard through the grapevine that I was working at the swank restaurant at the top of the CN Tower, and on impulse one day (after downing a few too many ales) trekked down to the harbour-front where he summarily boarded the elevator to the observation deck in search of me.
When security attempted to turf him out, he maneuvered his way up a stairwell, and beyond their grasp.
At the entrance of the restaurant he was finally detained - at which point - he demanded to see me.
I was immediately led to the exit door where Brian - drunk and disorderly - began to plead with me.
“Tell them to let me in to the restaurant,” he begged.
I tried to explain that I was only an employee at the CN Tower and that his impromptu appearance at the restaurant could get me fired.
But, Brian would not listen to reason, and refused to leave of his own accord.
The last time I saw him, he was being led away by security.
It was a particularly upsetting memory, when you consider that a short time later - tragically - my brother died alone in a hotel room at quite a young age.
Apparently, he was out drinking with buddies one night while he was on prescription medicine.
When Brian started to get a bit wobbly, his buddies took him back to his hotel room, and plunked him down on the bed where they expected him to sleep the drunk off.
Unfortunately, when they returned in the morning, he was dead.
Sadly, he left two young children behind fatherless.
My heart nearly broke when the news came.
The memories of our last visit in the stairwell of the CN Tower has continued to haunt me over the years.
A tear comes to my eye as I relay the events even now.
A lesson well-learned?
Always treat each precious moment with a loved one, or a friend, like it may be the last.
Then, later, there won't be any regrets.