A death even closer, kind of
Sunday, October 14, 2018
I got a call at around 2 a.m. on my landline Thursday morning. It sometimes rings like that in the middle of the night, but nothing comes of it. This time, it was the coroner in a city near where my brother lives-now lived. She let me know that he had died late at night on Wednesday, having been found in his car after a single-car accident outside a supermarket right after having gotten groceries. She thinks he probably had a heart attack and died even before the car hit. No one else was involved. My niece found out he had taken money out of the ATM in the supermarket at 11:03 and the accident was reported less than 15 minutes later.
He and I had had very little direct communication for years. That's why it was so bizarre to be the one getting the call. I was the easiest relative to find on the internet, and it was only because I've kept my land line. Otherwise, it might have been a few days or until someone heard his dog barking and wondered where he was.
We had a contentious relationship for various reasons, but it had softened on my side because our family came to understand that he had been suffering from progressively worse mental problems for years. He had been a hoarder already but also became incredibly paranoid-that's why he liked shopping late at night when few people were around. He thought people were trying to break into his mobile home through the floor of the bathroom and through the kitchen cabinets. He had torn up the bathroom flooring and tried to replace it with some kind of foam and towels that had become wet. The lower kitchen cabinet doors were torn off and most of the drawers removed as well. He wanted to be able to see what was going on in them all the time.
I don't use the word disgusting often, but that's what it was. No hot water. The flooring was damp and stunk. As you walked in the kitchen door, the floor felt like it would give way for the first foot. There were rat droppings in the kitchen but even more in a hallway. We thought the place was going to have to stand as is until it got removed in a few weeks, so I went in to try to get rid of anything that would attract more rats. There were plates of partially eaten food out on the counter, stove, and in the sink. Miraculously, there were no flies! I could not bring myself to just throw all the plates away, so I actually did wash them and some other kitchen stuff for Goodwill. I took out all the food stuffs except a few clean things in the fridge in case my niece decided to take them. So sad that he had food sitting out but had gone to get more.
The conditions were really terrible, but he wouldn't allow anyone to help him much. Several months ago, he had been kicked out because of code enforcement and had had to pay $3,00 to have the place cleared. He had been on a waiting list for more psychiatric treatment, but who knows how much that would have helped? I feet a great sense of compassion for him after decades of resentment when I didn't understand what was going on. I know what it's like to keep wanting to change things and falling short, and he was facing much stronger demons than I have. I thought I'd be able to come home and jettison things I have but I'm now getting stalled. but I need to forgive myself. It would be a nice fairy tale if I could say later that this changed my life, but I can't hold myself hostage to that.
I said it is a death even closer, kind of, because the young man who committed suicide in June actually knew more about my life now than my brother did. My family doesn't know a lot of details; they don't ask a lot and I hesitate because they don''t seem to understand my interests and don't know how to be supportive of them. I can't expect them to show a lot of enthusiasm. I don't understand theirs completely, either, and am not going to be able to get to the bottom of them in the short times we get together.
The way of modern life.
Ok, back at it.