When addiction is stronger than love . . .
Two versions of my quilt square. (I was supposed to have made it in shades of grey.)
This is a picture of my brothers the year my parents gave them each a fifth of good scotch for Christmas. It is part of a quilt being constructed by members of etsy.com. The quilt project is called “Triumph and Tragedy.”
I had a brother 20 months younger than me. He and I were always best friends and went to college together. He was funny, smart as a whip, and cute as a button. He could also charm your socks off, won civic awards, played ice hockey on the river for hours a day, and had all the math our Chicago high school offered by the time he was 15. He started college as a math major, but switched to art history and never landed a “real” job. He married his high school sweetheart, had three beautiful, smart, funny children, and worked as a warehouseman for 20 years. The older he got, the more he gave over to cynicism and depression. He loved his children more than life itself, but even that love wasn’t as strong as his alcohol addiction. His wife cut off ties with him, then his daughters, then his employer, then his landlord. Within a year of coming to live with my family, he developed throat cancer. He was anorexic, chain smoked, and his heart ached to see his son. He wasn’t strong enough to deal with the radiation and chemotherapy necessary to arrest his cancer and died at the ripe old age of 47.
I had a brother six years younger than me. He was gangly, quick, funny and had an IQ of 170. He was also dyslexic and failed unhappily in school. No one in our home, school or church had ever heard of learning disabilities. He never seemed to fit in anywhere or with anyone. He was in love with a woman in his twenties who took off with everything he ever had, including his best friend. He had chronic back pain and became addicted to pain killers. He lost his drivers’ license. He always thought he was smarter than his bosses, and he probably was, but it made him awfully hard to work with. He lost his last job because of his drinking and never told anyone. His last 30 phone calls had been to his dealer and were all made within ten hours. He’d been dead over two weeks before a friend finally kicked in his door and found his body surrounded by empty whisky bottles, empty prescription containers, and a cold crack pipe. He was 42.
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