Sunday, August 29, 2010

Missing Him

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My brother Joe and Poetry
Teen suicide sucks. I found out, first-hand, in 1971. My brother with that beautiful nervous smile of his, left us. It happened late at night. I was age 16 and asleep. Joe would have been 19 in one more week. I hope he stopped by my room and said goodbye. I'll never know. I have memories of him, very good ones. I discarded the negative, as best I can. The blog has helped me do this. If I could change things I would. He was so smart. So quiet. Call me Mr Opposite. We fought and loved each-other. He was my big brother but I was larger. He wrote this funny poem and I never forgot it. I don't know if my sisters know it, but I know it. word.for.word.

WHEN I GET OLDER by Joe

When I get older, I know what I'll be.

A wino's life, is the life for me.

Vin Ros'e and Muscatel,

A life like that would sure be swell!

I'd live down by the railroad tracks,

And keep my wine in paper sacks.

When I'm older and I die,

You'll know it's cause my bottle's dry!

Today: Sunday 29 August 2010
As I hurry to get ready for church and pray for good...I will try and knock this out. I wish it was something I could get out of me but it's stuck there. It's been what, 38 years? I was tying my shoes, getting ready for school. Another sunny May morning in 1971. Perfect for me, a Junior in high school, until I heard Mom yelling my Dad's name in a very different sounding loud and frantic voice. Joe was in the garage. It was there he'd taken a rope and ladder, sometime during the late-night or early morning hours, and comitted suicide. I ran from my bedroom as Dad pushed Mom out of the garage and told me to help get Joe off the rope. I held his limp body up so Dad could get the noose off of him. Joe was brilliant. He was sensitive. He was my big brother. We set him down softly and then I heard the air leave his lungs. He was dead...one week before he would have turned 19. My Elder Sister Carol could not bring herself to go to Joe's funeral. She deeply loved him and she and her wonderful husband took Joe into their home several times for weeks and months. She was forever mad at my Dad over Joe's death. You see..Joe was receiving professional psychological counseling and it cost money. Dad grew up on a farm in Texas during the depression and was a WWII USMC veteran of Guadalcanal. I think my Dad just figured life was tough and you just overcame things. He thought wrong... but this...I believe, was his mindset. He was my Dad and I couldn't fault him on his reasoning. I can't. All these questions like why?...come flooding at me. Still puzzling and hurting at times. Often out of the blue. Did he say good by to me? Is he in heaven? Is he in hell? Is there a heaven or a hell, or a damn God of any good out there? Could I have done or said something to him to keep from doing this to himself...TO US???!!! I couldn't wait to get away from home and my Mom's Jehovah God. More later maybe.

11 comments:

pam said...

The pain and frustration of having no answers will never surpass the devastating loss of Joe, but it's a wound all the same.

I'd like to think that Joe said goodbye to everyone before he did what he thought he had to do... can't imagine that he wouldn't.

I'm so sorry, Gene. {{{Hug}}}

Kanani said...

I'm so sorry, Gene. No words to say except keep remembering that gentle smile.

jck said...

I cannot imagine the pain of your loss, or the impact of Joe's death.

I have lost several friends by suicide, and the questions linger - How did I not see their pain? What could I have done differently? How could they have reached a point where this seemed a solution rather than a terrible choice?

We can't know any of this, but I too would like to think Joe said goodbye. And that he is watching over you still.

Sending all my best thoughts and hugs.

AFSister said...

Hi Gene-
I wish no one ever knew how painful it is to be a survivor after a suicide. Your pain, 38 years later, is crystal clear and heartbreaking.

I think everyone has had lows low enough to make themselves think "the world is better off without me".... but few actually go through with it. It's brutal for those left behind.

I heard Dr. Phil once ask a mother who had contemplated suicide "What gives you the right to do that to your kids? To your parents? To your friends? What give you the right to leave them with the 'I wish I'd done more' or 'I wish I'd known how bad things really were' thoughts? NOTHING. NOTHING. EVER. Gives you that right."

I cried.
I've had friends and even a couple of boyfriends kill themselves, and my brother came damn close. I still wonder why, what could I have done that I didn't do... and why didn't they feel comfortable enough to confide in me? They're questions I will never know the answer to, so I go on. You go on, and you remember, and you try to make sure others remember too and know that killing yourself leaves unmeasurable pain for those who survive you.

Teresa said...

I'm so very sorry. The hardest thing to overcome in life is the fact that there are no answers to some questions. If there was an answer, you might be able to let go of some of the pain.

What happened to your brother came from inside him. It came from something we don't yet understand. Maybe we will one day. But until then, it's an incurable disease. We might stave it off and a few lucky ones manage to kick it completely for no known reason. But most of those struck with it are taken from us far too soon. Like cancer it's particularly aggressive in some people - your brother is one of those people.

I do believe they will find a cure one day. It won't help your brother or your family, except for knowing other families won't have to live through such nightmares. {{{HUGS}}}

Six said...

Words are insuffecient. You and your beloved brother will be in my thoughts.

The_Kid said...

I'm sorry to hear you had to bring help bring him down.

Obviously I have no idea about your brother. My younger brother committed suicide but it took years of alcohol and drugs to do it, finally manifesting in shot lungs, and a whole host of other problems.

I can tell you he did not have whatever it is most of us have that allows us to deal effectively with society. He wanted no part of it, and though I tried to help him gain those skills for years, I wasn't successful.

My brother died in hospital, with me, my Mom, sister, and 3 of his nieces there. In his case, there was some relief that he wouldn't be dealing with the poor physical condition he'd degraded to.

He just wanted no part of this place.

I wish the best for your brother and you of course.

USA_Admiral said...

God bless you Gene for having to carry this all your life.

You will also be in my thoughts.

Vixen said...

I have no words or answers, but my thoughts are with you. I know those feelings will never go away, but I am glad you can still remember the good memories.

tim said...

Sorry for you loss Gene, obviously the pain of 38 never goes away and that is a lesson we all can learn from.

Thanks for sharing what surely is a difficult story.

Lands’nGrooves

Anonymous said...

You know, Gene (hugs) your dad WAS of a different age and a different time. The understanding of the worth and efficacy of "counseling" and "psychiatric care" was different than today. Even the understanding of the brain chemistry and how long it takes to grow the brain to its fullest capacity has evolved with time.

Your dad is no more guilty than the people who once thought you didn't have to wash hands to do surgery. They didn't know what they didn't know.

Now we know that the brain continues to grow until it's 23-25 years of age. And connections in the prefrontal cortex and the corpus callossum continue to be formed... those things that turn an immortal teenager who thinks he can dune buggy off the roof into an adult who tells his boy to get back in the house before he gets hurt.

Your brother couldn't see the connections. He made his choices without all of his brain plugged into the cause and effect center. He was a teenager. He saw the here and now and the future he thought would be. His brain couldn't see the beyond and maybes.

And that's where God comes in. The God that made him young and immature will take that into account the same way a father doesn't expect his 10 year old to understand Quantum Physics. I believe that God grades on the curve. He said so. "To him who is given much, much is expected." Loving fathers make allowances for youthful incapacity. You as a father know that now. I hope in that knowlege you find your peace with the Perfect and Everloving Father of all. God bless you in your painful memories. Posting this here helps people you don't even know. Delta Bravo