I came from a family of four children; me and my three brothers. I’m the only one left in my family now, which seems so strange to think about. My youngest brother (Jimmy) lived to torment me. He was terrible! When I was little, he and his friends played a joke on me; Jimmy peed in a Mountain Dew bottle and gave it to me to drink, that’s how terrible he was! Jimmy committed suicide at age twenty, I was thirteen. I missed my brother and his antics, I couldn’t believe he was gone.
Paul and Granny
My oldest brother (Paul) he was an angel, I’m not kidding, he was the best big brother a little sister could ever ask for. Paul was so gentle and kind; he would catch house flies in his hand and let them loose outside. When he was a teenager our great grandmother (Granny) could no linger live alone, so Paul moved in with her. He and Granny had a good ol’ time together. Paul really knew how to entertain her and she knew how to make him happy through cooking him his favorite foods. Paul gave Granny quality of life in her final years and she gave him the benefit of wisdom that comes with living a long and full life; Granny passed away at age ninety-two.
Granny’s Pigeon Dinner
Paul used to raise pigeons in the back yard of Granny’s house. He built a really nice walk-in coop for his pigeons and spent a lot of time working with them. Now this is where he and Granny were not on the same wave link, because to Paul his pigeons were pets, but to Granny the pigeons were DINNER. One day, Granny got it in her head to have pigeon for dinner. She told my brother Paul to kill a few for her and she would take care of cleaning them. You can’t imagine how devastating that was for Paul to have to kill one of his pets, much less two. He stood out by the coop for the longest time; Granny kept coming out back to see if Paul had made any progress on what she had assigned him to do. At one point she told him that she would do it herself, and that’s when he pleaded for their lives. Granny gave in; she could see that it was too tormenting for Paul to have to do. So instead she sent him to the grocery store to pick up chicken. Granny knew from that day forward that she was the proud owner of fifteen pet pigeons.
The Grocery Store Dilemma
My brother Paul was very intelligent but he could at times be a bit absent minded. This was my dad’s all-time favorite story to tell about my brother Paul.
Paul was good to go to the grocery store for mom and dad. Before he got his driver’s license he would walk to the store, but after he learned how to drive dad would let him take the family car.
One day Paul went to the store and arrived back home with sacks of groceries in each arm. My dad calmly asked Paul, “Son, is something wrong with the car?” Paul answered, “No dad, why do you ask?’ dad replied, “Because the car isn’t in the driveway.” Paul told dad that he would be right back and he skedaddled out the front door. Paul forgot that he had driven to the store and he left the car sitting in the parking lot and walked home toting the bags of groceries. My dad enjoyed telling the story of his forgetful son for many years after.
A Servant's Heart
My brother Paul was the rock of our family. Our parents depended on him for almost everything because they knew that they could. My other brothers learned early on not to be dependable or they’d end up working all the time like Paul. If anyone was deserving of a happy life it was Paul. He was good in every way, he had a servant’s heart and that is what he lived to do. He was a servant to our parents, to his siblings, to his grandparents and to his wife and children. Whatever or whomever Paul affiliated himself with; he became their servant and wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Paul was drafted in to the military when he was twenty. While serving in the Marine Corps, Paul met the woman he would marry and spend the rest of his life with.
Paul and Family
Paul and his wife were together for forty-eight years. They had a son and a granddaughter, and a seemingly nice life together. I didn’t get to spend very much time with Paul after he went into the Marines; he settled back east and made his home there. He and his wife would come for visits every few years and we would always enjoy our time together.
Paul’s wife was deaf, so Paul learned sign language as best he could and it looked to me that he was pretty good at it. The only thing was at meals Paul had a hard time eating if there was very much conversations going on, because he needed to interpret what people were saying for his wife. Paul didn’t seem to be bothered by how things were; he just took things in his stride. But maybe Paul just got good at holding things in and that’s why he had high blood pressure. The 2010 visit revealed a number of things concerning Paul (besides having high blood pressure); things that made me feel sad for him. I didn’t realize how badly he hated being so far away from us, especially from our mom. I had no idea how our brother’s suicide affected him or how he missed Granny. Paul always had to be the strong one in the family and hold things together, but who was strong for him? I can understand why Paul had such a faith in God; the only outlet he had to draw strength from was his faith.
What a Difference a Phone Call Makes
I talk about my brother as if he was perfect, well to me he was perfect in every way and I believe our mom thought so too, but realistically I know he wasn’t. But what he was, was someone with very big shoulders to bear people’s burdens and a very big heart to show love and compassion to anyone in need. I wish that I could have been a source of strength for him when he so desperately needed it, but I was so self absorbed and busy wallowing in self pity that I didn’t see his pain.
On January 5, 2017, I went to work and had one of the best days at work I had ever had. There was a huge office party that took up most of the center. Everyone was having a good time; it was a fun day and I came home on high it was such a pleasant day. But one phone call turned my best day into the worst day of my life. My sister-in-law called me (my middle brother’s wife) she told me that my brother Paul and his wife were gone, I asked her where they went and she said that they were both dead. I could hardly speak and I was trying to catch my breath when she went on to say that Paul killed his wife and then himself. I don’t even remember anything after that other than me sitting cockeyed on the couch and wailing loudly. I felt like my brain exploded. I didn’t even begin to know how to process what had happened.
The next day I went online to see if I could get any information, and there were a number of articles, it was very difficult to think that they were talking about my brother and his wife. Three and a half years later I still have a hard time believing this has happened, but it did. I handled the tragedy badly; I gained forty-five pounds by the end of 2017, I shut everyone out except for my son. I didn’t feel like being around anyone, I just wanted to be alone.
If I Could Go Back In Time
I have had two brothers take their own lives and the life of another. That makes me feel sad that suicide was their option. Both of my parents died of cancer, but I witnessed my mom and my dad fight to live to the very end.
If I have learned anything through all this is that no one should have to bear everyone’s burdens. Even the seemingly strong need a rock to lean on at times. I don’t know what I could have done to change the out come of Paul’s life but I would give anything to go back and have the opportunity to try. The end of my brother’s life was not in any way an example of how he lived. The unfortunate thing is that his eagerness to serve could have been the very thing that drove him to a place where he could no longer manage.