Three years ago today my younger brother Ted passed away. I still remember sitting in my office that morning and receiving a call from the manager of the mobile home park were my brother lived with my dad, asking me to get over to the park right away. At first I thought something had happened to my dad but she reassured me that my dad was fine but that I should get over to his home right now! The park had been having some serious issues with my brother and were actually in the process of evicting him. I remember asking her if my brother was causing some kind of problem. She was quiet for a moment then repeated that I should get over there. I suppose I should have hung up the phone and rushed over right then, but my head was reeling and my stomach churning, I needed some answers.
I again asked her what was going on but she said she felt it wasn’t her place to tell me.Well that response caused me to press her even harder. “Tell me what?” I asked nervously. “Look we’ve been working together for awhile now trying to find a way to deal with my brother’s situation, I have no problem with you telling me, please just tell me what happened?” She finally relented and told me that a body had been found behind the strip mall next to the park. One of the park security people had informed her that it was my brother. He also told her the Covina police were in route to inform my dad. I hung up and got over there as quickly as I could. I called my sister on the way and got there as the police were informing my dad. It was a hell of a day. A painfully long day.
I can’t say we were surprised, my brother had been slowly killing himself with drugs and alcohol for years. We all knew that day was coming, it was just a matter of time. And his time finally came. The years of abuse had taken their toll and his body just couldn’t take it anymore. At the time of his death he was not drunk or high on drugs, blood tests revealed that there were no drugs in his system and his alcohol level was well below the legal limit. No, his heart simply stopped. It’s sad that it took death to bring him the peace he longed for in life, but the demons he was battling were winning and that my friends made life a living hell for him and those around him.
Rest in peace baby brother. Until we meet again…
—————————————————————————————— What follows is a reprinted of the original post from the day after his death three years ago.
“Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness.” Thomas Aquinas
My younger brother Ted is dead. He was discovered yesterday morning around 7:30AM behind a strip mall not far from my father’s mobile home where he was living. There was no foul play, no trauma, no knife wound, gunshot, bruising or contusions. It is quite possible that he died of aspiration of vomit while lying on his back, passed out or some internal failure caused by his alcoholism.
May he rest in peace…
All my family ever really wanted was a little peace and quiet for my 87 year old father. All we wanted was to relieve the stress my younger brother was putting him through night and day, everyday. All we wanted was for Ted to stop the abusive treatment and show our father the love and respect he deserves.
All we were asking of my 49 year old brother was to find another place to live and move out of our father’s mobile home so that dad wouldn’t be evicted. He’d done it before. Four years ago he’d moved out just days before my dad was to receive an eviction notice. Again the eviction was based on my brother’s irresponsible behavior in the park. That time he managed to get into a rehab program in South El Monte and was dry for two years. The best two years my dad has had in a long time.
Then my brother broke the rules and was asked to leave the facility. With nowhere to go he lived with friends here and there and occasionally showed up at my dad’s mobile home. But in a few short months he managed to work his way back into my father’s home full time. He laid low for several months hiding away in my dad’s trailer, no one, including the family even knew he was living there. In time he began hitting the bottle pretty heavy and soon everyone knew he was back with my dad. He began getting into trouble (see previous Oh Brother post) and eviction was soon back on the table.
This is not what we wanted, this is not the resolution we were looking for. We wanted Ted to get the help he so desperately needed. We wanted Ted to want to be sober again. He had such untapped potential and was such a different man when he was on the sober road. He was kind, loving and a fun guy to be around. I haven’t had that brother for a long, long time. It is that brother that I will truly miss. Alcohol destroyed that Ted, it made him angry, mean and bitter. He was never a happy drunk, always an angry one.
The last time I spoke to my brother was in November. He had been drinking. We did not fight or argue. He pleaded that he was trying to change and when I asked him if he’d been drinking he lied and said no. He cried and said he was lonely. It broke my heart, but I continued to employ the tough love that we had all agreed to use in dealing with him. I remember telling him that we would be there to support him if he would commit to a program and stop the drinking and be there to support him when he got out. He told me he was trying and maybe he was just a little, but it wasn’t enough.
The last thing he asked me was if he could call just to talk. I hesitated a moment and finally said I didn’t think so. Before he could reply I said, “You know what Ted, let me think on that for awhile.” We said goodbye and that was that… I never got back to him, and now I’ll never have the chance.
I feel awful for not being there for him, but he needed to come to terms with his illness and seek help. Tough love was our way of trying to sway him in the right direction. A good friend of mine told me some time ago that “sometimes no help is the best help we can give.” I guess we’ll never know now.
I loved my brother, even though he probably didn’t think so, I simply didn’t like what he’d become. I will not miss the drunken,angry, thug Ted had become, that was not my brother. I will miss the kind, gentle loving brother he once was, the kind, loving, little brother I hoped and prayed he would one day be again.
The Lord works in mysterious ways…
I Love you little brother, your earthly pain has finally passed.
Say hi to mom for me….