Happy Birthday Bro!
Yesterday June 23, would have been my brother’s 53rd birthday. He died over three years ago on February 10, 2011, a victim of hard times, hard times he brought upon himself, but a victim non the less. God rest his soul.
The last time I spoke to my brother was in November of 2010. Thank God we didn’t fight or argue. He told me how badly he was doing and that he was trying to change. I could tell by his speech that he’d been drinking, but when I asked him he lied and said no. Although it broke my heart, I continued to employ the tough love that the family had agreed to use in dealing with him. Perhaps if he had been honest with me I would have responded different but he chose to lie to me so I told him that we would all be there to support him if he would commit to a program and stop drinking and that we would be there to support him when he got out. He told me he was trying and nothing more, then hung up on me. I truly believe he might have been trying but it just wasn’t wasn’t enough. I feel awful for not being there for him then but he needed to come to terms with his illness and seek help.
Just the year before he had been clean and sober. Life was good. Like a cancer patient in remission he was happy and enjoying his new found freedom. For over two years we were again a happy family. He was the Ted of old, full of love, the warm and cuddly teddy bear. Those were two incredible years. My dad was so pleased that he was doing well, we all were. He was at all the gatherings and family events, and dropped by our homes and those of his niece and nephews. During football season he was here nearly every Sunday worshiping with me and other family members at the altar of the NFL. Good times.
Then just like that it all came to a crashing end. One Sunday morning he arrived at my home completely wasted and stinking of booze. Something to do with a woman friend had sent him over the edge. As a result he’d been kicked out of the halfway facility he’d been living in and the joy and happiness we’d been sharing with Ted for two years abruptly ended and all hell broke lose. With no where to go he moved back in with my dad’s mobile home even though the last time he had lived there he had nearly managed to get my dad evicted and been forced to move out. He tried to live there secretly but that didn’t last long. There was absolutely no way you could keep a drunk Ted a secret. Although park management loved my dad they had no alternative but to evict because of the problems my brother was causing. Since he refused to leave they were forced to evict my dad as well. The eviction papers were served just a week before my brother’s sudden death.
Yes, once Ted fell off the wagon things got very ugly. As a family we all decided that we had to take a stand so we decided to try the practice of “tough love.” Tough love was to be our way of trying to sway him in the right direction. He tried talking to everyone but the entire family had bought into tough love and would refer his calls to me. I was the family rep, anything he wanted to say passed through me first. It wasn’t a job I relished, but I took it and stuck to my guns. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I explained to him how things had to be until he made the commitment to clean up and even offered to attend AA meetings with him, but to no avail. He simply grew angry and blamed me for turning the family against him. Never before have I been told off, cussed out or threatened as much I was during those months. I hated it.
Although at times I felt absolutely horrible about the whole thing and wanted to cave, I knew I was, we were doing the right thing. A good friend of mine had once told me that “sometimes no help is the best help we can give.” I guess we’ll never know now. I would like to believe that he would have made the turn around. In fact, the more I thing about it and believe me I’ve thought a lot about it over the past 3 years and quite a bit about it today the day of his birth and I know in my heart he would have changed for the better again and we would have all welcomed him back into the fold with open arms.
But the Lord works in mysterious ways… He intervened and caused my brother to change alright but in an everlasting way and the open arms waiting to greet him were those of my mom, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, who have crossed over into God’s Light.
May you rest in peace little brother…