My late brother Simon will never walk in 2023 like the rest of us. He died on the hottest day of last year - July 19th - in Dove House - the only hospice in East Yorkshire. They had placed him in The Princess Diana Suite. There was a framed photograph of her by the swing doors. She had opened this room back in 1992. It was cool like a cave and it only took Simon four days to die in there.
Simon was a difficult human. I had given up asking him over to our house for Christmas so every year in the days just before Christmas, we would meet up at a venue half way between his humble rental cottage in the village where we were both born and my house in Sheffield. This was usually The Lakeside Shopping Village at Doncaster or the motorway services at the M18/M180 junction. There we would exchange gifts, drink coffees and converse about this and that.
He smoked all his adult life and ultimately this is what killed him - cancer of both the trachea and the oesophagus. Any weight he had fell away till he was just skin and bone. Not only did he smoke tobacco, he also smoked marijuana and cannabis and in his late teens/early twenties he changed from being a healthy happy-go-lucky kid who played football and laughed into a morose, withdrawn supercritic and fantasist. He made my parents' lives a misery in the late seventies. Some sort of psychosis happened in relation to the dope - I am absolutely sure of that. It plagued him for the rest of his days like asthma or eczema.
Following his death, I had to start to tidy up his affairs. This was not made any easier by the fact that he had failed to have a will made. I had to close down his bank accounts, sell his Mercedes van and with invaluable help from my wife Shirley, clear out his rental cottage. That took several days. Luckily, his landlord and landlady were very understanding. Of course there was also the funeral to arrange.
I laughed. I am such a shadow of what I could have been. Just call me lazy.ReplyDelete
I did not expect this blogpost to provoke any laughter.Delete
I think this is the most you've written about him. It's painful watching people you love, descend into a pit of misery. I wonder if he was self medicating an undiagnosed mental illness, or as you say, dealing with a marijuana induced psychosis. It's pretty frustrating that he left you such a mess to deal with, or maybe he did it on purpose. Who knows.ReplyDelete
My brother in law is like this, angry, self medicating his hurt, instead of looking within himself to heal. We can't change people though.
You are right. It was impossible to change him. He knew that he had self-destructed.Delete
So many people experiment with drug taking and then resume their lives, Simon was unlucky in the reaction he had. I wonder if that reduced his ability to cope with life's slings and arrows?ReplyDelete
Simon may have been difficult but you have honoured his life and the bonds of family and you will always be able to take pride in doing so. The long slog through bureaucracy will eventually end, hang in there
Thank you for your wise words Kylie. Much appreciated.Delete
At the best of times cleaning up an estate is a huge and complicated job. When there's a tragic relationship involved it's worse. So I hope that the estate is cleared up and that some sort of resolution happens regarding the relationship you had with your brother.ReplyDelete
Now that he is dead I doubt that anything will change. I just want his money stuff to be sorted out so I can move on.Delete
A bittersweet post xReplyDelete
Thanks for reading it John.Delete
A sad life. One line stood out: "It was always their fault." I know someone who holds that exact belief and it is a struggle to be around him.ReplyDelete
Simon had numerous jobs but the person in charge - the boss, the foreman, the supervisor etc.. never had a clue about what they were doing. Simon on the other hand could have managed things with his eyes shut.Delete
I like his face.ReplyDelete
We cannot go back and change anything. The only thing we can change is how we feel about something, how we deal with the aftermath. Perhaps you can learn to accept how Simon lived his life which may have been the very best he could do. I have no right to say that. I don't know all of the suffering he has probably caused you. As I said to a friend today, here we are in 2023 and we are still completely clueless when it comes to mental illness in so many instances. And that much, I believe, is true. We can transplant a heart but we cannot transplant a psyche.
You are a wise woman Mary and I appreciate your thoughts... even though there are things about Simon that I could not bring myself to say. Let them sleep with him unsaid.Delete
In previous posts, you mentioned how difficult Simon was, and I am very sorry he caused your parents so much grief - they certainly did not deserve that, and neither did you. But you still did your best and never gave up on him completely, which honours you as a very decent human being, Neil.ReplyDelete
When 2022 slipped into 2023 amidst the sights and sounds of fireworks in my neighbourhood, I thought of this new year as my first one without my Dad. He was there long before I was born, and without him, I would not exist - now I have to. And most of the time, I am fine; it is just certain moments that get to me like that.
No. I always maintained connections with Simon.Delete
Your dad was very lucky to have had three women who really loved him in his life - all now feeling his absence.
If only more people realised the harm that dope can do. It's insidious and the changes made in you cannot easily be reversed, but those who are changing can't see it for themselves, any problems are always someone else's fault. In spite of all that happened, you still loved your brother enough to care for him and try to help at the end and even now, with things to be done still. You are a good person YP.ReplyDelete
You seem to understand what you are talking about here River. Thank you.Delete
I loved and adored my brother when we were children. Different lives, different values and, like your relationship with your brother, that love evaporated. I haven't seen or spoken to him for decades.ReplyDelete
How very sad. At least I always maintained some contact with Simon - in spite of everything. I wonder if your brother sometimes thinks wistfully of you and the childhood you shared.Delete
Such a sad story. Your love and frustration comes through. You can't chose your family. As an only child I have always wanted siblings but maybe having friends has been better..ReplyDelete
You can always ditch friends and find new ones but siblings are forever.Delete
Your post made me feel sad, for Simon and for you as a sibling powerless to help him.ReplyDelete
It also brought back painful memories for me too of the struggles my dad had with alcohol following mum's departure and then his painful death from lung cancer after a lifetime of heavy smoking. He died on Christmas Eve just before my 50th birthday and so this time of year he is close to my thoughts.
Sorry to have rambled on, YP, but your post has opened up the wound again.
I know your father meant the world to you and your sister and when you were little he did not let you down. Most people have family pains to bear.Delete
Family can be both the best of things and the worst of things at the same time, making them the most frustrating of things all at once.ReplyDelete
Remember just the good times with Simon and smile.
I wish I was able to follow your instruction Bob.Delete
I feel your pain. I have no siblings but my youngest son has the attitude and vices of your brother. My other two children try with him but it's a one way street.ReplyDelete
On a brighter note, I wish you and you're a happy, healthy and peaceful new year. X
I am sorry to hear that your youngest has been and continues to be such a trial. Let's hope he grows out of this mindset. Thinking about Simon, he did not actively choose to become the man he was. It just happened.Delete
I am sorry for your loss, Neil, which happened over a lifetime with Simon.ReplyDelete
Reminds me of my second son who doesn't want much to do with us. I always reach out and will visit him from time to time but there is a wall of resistance that I don't quite understand. I am hoping that my love will reach him again one day and he will love me back.
That is all you can do Ellen. Give him your love unconditionally and forever - no matter what. Something that will always be there for him. My mother gave all her love to Simon though he often treated her like dirt.Delete
Relationships with the people around us, especially family, can haunt us all through life. Simon was Simon in the end and the young brother was lost because life changed him. Not your fault but events around him altered his path through life.ReplyDelete
You are right Thelma. He did not choose the outcome he got.Delete
For Simon, I can substitute my beloved Father. Alway someone else's fault. What ever the addiction, its always the same self pity and lack of awareness. Be kind to your self Mr Pudding, you can never change them.ReplyDelete
Bless you and your family. Happy new year. Regards, Sally
Sorry about your father Sally. Like Simon, I am sure he did not choose to be that way. Thanks for your understanding.Delete
All very sad YP and you are incredibly brave to share your feelings and thoughts with us all.ReplyDelete
I got two thirds of the way there Dave but there are truths about Simon that I still cannot bring myself to share.Delete
I have no words of wisdom for this bittersweet post but thank you for sharing it.ReplyDelete
Thank you Ed. Sometimes when people explain things they are not looking for advice - just a listening ear.Delete
It's so hard to know what motivates -- or demotivates -- a person. The cannabis may have had something to do with it, but then, that could have been a symptom as much as a cause. Perhaps there was underlying mental illness even before the drugs, and he was self-medicating. Who knows?ReplyDelete
In any case I'm sorry you had to endure the deterioration of your relationship, and I hope you can continue to cast your mind back to your childhoods when you were more in synch with each other.
If only indeed. You have those memories of childhood to hold on to and the poignant reminders of the poor choices he made and how unhappy he made himself through those choices. It's the sad tale of too many people. If that is him, he looks so much like Richard Burton!!ReplyDelete
I read in this prose that tells of a life that you really did want to love and cherish him as a brother and friend but found it impossible. I feel your deep sadness and continuing melancholy.ReplyDelete