Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's In Your Closet?

One of my brothers is a little bent. Compared to his skewed view of the world, my rants are as tame as June Cleaver. Last night he called, but I just didn't have the emotional energy to listen to him, so I waited until this morning to call him back.

Nothing like the cold, clear light of day and a hearty breakfast to make difficult relatives more bearable. He gave me fifteen minutes on how George Bush the First caused Kennedy's death when he was head of the CIA. This was not an easy accomplishment since Bush Uno wasn't CIA Director until Gerald Ford appointed him during the seventies, well after JFK was gone.

This fascinating piece of information was followed by breaking news about the shooter from the grassy knoll, identified as James Parrott. Apparently Parrott has finally confessed to shooting Kennedy in the head. This confession has come just in time apparently, because he's in jail now and dying. And that's just part of today's paranoid phone call. I usually just tell my brother that these things may be important to him, but I'm not really interested. No point telling him he's wrong about anything, except today I mentioned that H.W.Bush wasn't head of the CIA under Kennedy. Naturally, facts are irrelevant to conspiracy theorists, so he ignored me. Eventually when I don't argue with him, he runs out of steam and just promises to call back. Lucky me.

This behavior has been going on for years. I once felt the need to call the local police in his fancy, faraway town to give them the name of his next of kin. I thought there should be someone for them to contact in case they finally had to shoot him. This was around the time he really seemed to be going off the deep end, picketing judges during his divorce outside the court house, stuff like that.

I talked to the Deputy Chief for almost an hour. He needed no introduction to my brother, since he'd arrested him more than once over the years. During our conversation, I gave him my brother's back story -- yuppie childhood, Stanford Law, hired by a top law firm, wife and daughter, two homes, all kinds of reasons for him to lead a normal life. Somewhere he got derailed. The excess alcohol and drugs of the sixties and seventies left him divorced, broke, and working as a handyman. It wasn't until years later that I was able to piece together what had happened.

At the time, I wasn't sure whether my phone call to the police would help my brother's cause or not.
Surprisingly, a few weeks later he called about an unusual traffic stop. Apparently he didn't have a sticker on his pickup's license plate. But he said the officer who stopped him treated him with unusual deference and enormous respect. He didn't even get a ticket, just a reminder to make sure he took care of his obligations quickly.So, thanks, Chief.

Meanwhile, he was getting so angry and paranoid during those years that I began to think he might even be the Unibomber. I kept my thoughts to myself until one of my other brothers said he'd wondered about that too.

Then, quite by accident, a guy I knew in high school told me that he had been molested by our town's extremely popular cub scout leader. He didn't think it had affect him though. So I didn't point out that he was the only one who didn't seem to realize that his best friend all through college was gay. Or how he spent the sixties as a drugged out roadie when he wasn't traveling in India with a beard down to his knees, smoking anything that grew.

I told my friend's story to my brother, who told me that the same cub scout leader had molested him too. I was speechless. Suddenly the reason for all kinds of my brother's behavior began to fall into place. His sudden, scary interest in collecting and shooting guns. Getting arrested driving his go-cart down the main road in town at fourteen. Calling his high school adviser a fag. Hitting another boy so hard in the head for taking his pie that he lost his hearing. Followed by alcohol and drugs.

Lately, my brother wants to come out to live with me, so he can help around the house. But I told him he'd have to find his own place because his personality is racing so fast that he makes me crazy. He actually thanked me for being so honest. Nothing like having a dry alcoholic with full time mania around.

He has come to visit before and started painting my hallway at midnight, among other things. Someday, if I ever recover, I'll share the events of his last visit. More than five years ago.

Then I'll share heartwarming stories about my little sister.


cw2smom said...

Bless his heart! He's definitely got some demons! I have a friend who's had some similar issues in his past and behaves very similar, including all the conspiracy theories. It's so disheartening. But, what can we do? Just love them I guess. You sound like a great sister. I can't imagine having to call the local police to give them the next of kin, for such valid concerns. Hugs to you Mrs. L.!!!

Myra said...

Family...we don't pick 'em, they just are! We just love them regardless, don't we??

Donna said...

Wow! My late brother spent half his life in prison, but when he was out, he appeared every bit the gentleman. Until he got drunk and started stealing things, and back he'd go to the clink.

He died of cancer in a halfway house.

Anne said...

Your candor is heartfelt. We all have families full of extremes. In this family dynamic.......we wonder about our place and purpose. Lovingly, Anne

Chris said...

You probably remember my history with that. The problem with mine was despite what happened 35 years ago, the destructive behaviors that I did after that carried their own consequences. I still had to own up to the choices that I made but forgive myself for things beyond my control. Blah blah blah.

Point is, you did the right thing back then and I'm sure you will figure out the right thing to do now too.

Remo said...

I wish I had an excuse.

Mrs. L said...

I'm from the garbage in - garbage out theory of behavior. When I experience garbage coming back at me I am always curious as to what kind of garbage went in -- although it's actually pretty predicable.

The other half is that the person who's spewing the garbage has to take responsibility for his or her behavior at some point. In this brother's case, that hasn't happened.