My youngest brother, who is older than I am by thirteen years, was sentenced to twenty years at Angola Pennitentary for his involvement in an armed robbery of a convenient store. He was sitting in the car in drug induced euphoria while his friends held up the store with a hand gun.
He was eighteen, and served nearly fifteen years before being paroled.
The things I remember most before, and during that period in his life was his romance with an "older" woman. He was quite young and she wasn't quite so young. Betty Anne was her name. He had a son with his childhood sweetheart. Since we were "poor white trash," her parents refused to acknowledge him, and he grew up not knowing my brother.
I remember his motor cycle. It was big, black, and loud. His best friend was killed while riding it. I remember that quite clearly, although I was really young at the time, because he was decapitated...and my brother threw the motor bike in the ship channel.
I remember his music, halloween parties, and everyone calling him "Chicano." He was half mexican. We had different dads.
He was wild. Liked to party. Liked to smoke, drink and fool around.
My brother came out of prison in the early ninties.
As it is with most boys becoming men while living in prison, living in the "world" was a trial. He found work as an offshore cook, and then moved his way up...way up to a very skilled crane operator, met a woman, had a son, left the woman, lost his son, and lived his life deep in alcohol and whatever else he could find to fill the emptiness.
He loved his son.
Truly loved his son, and grieved the forced seperation that his son's mother imposed. But at the same time, the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction had such a hold that not even for his son could he give it up. He tried. And at times succeeded. He fought for his son, and time and time again, lost. I think it broke his heart, and from that breaking, he could not become fixed. The alcohol and drugs became so deeply embedded. It was the only thing in his life that remained faithful to him. How could he not be the same in return.
He was a good person, aside from the addiction he battled daily. And would not hesitate to offer help when the need was there. I remember the endless days I spent in the hospital battling cancer, and the endless days he spent being there, sleeping on a couch that made his butt look big.
Demon's aside, his heart was good.
My brother is dying. He was diagnosed years ago with Hep. B. Fearing for the loss of his job, he decided to forego treatment. And now, years of abuse combined with this disease is taking his mind and his life.
I do not know how long he has. I do not know how many bouts of sanity vs. insanity we will see.
And my heart hurts for the man who lost the boy that he was.