Cleaning Out my Closet

When you clean out your closet on a Saturday night by yourself, you have to disclose what you found.

I found this piece of writing in a manilla folder entitled, "FREEDOM"

It was a paper I wrote in high school, circa 1987.  It was a paper supporting Ronald Reagan.  In that folder was something I wrote on the back of a photocopy of an article about Reagan.  It had to be written prior 1990.  I should have started exploring writing back then.

"To look into an open space and see things that are special to you, and to see things that move you, you are so far ahead of everyone else.  You care.  What is better than that?  To be moved by life, to be moved by death, a gesture, a motion.  Life is special when you make the decision that you will make it special.  God!  Where do we go from here?  Lie down, sit up, shout, stay silenced, sing, laugh, cry.

I am intended to

It stops there but, unfortunately, I stayed silent.




The family dinner.  It’s something that works into every bone of your body.  The sight of your loved ones sitting around a table brings memories, it brings joy, it brings with it a fear of not saying the wrong thing, but most of all it brings hope.  Hope that one day, when they’re gone, you will take with you what is intended… love. 

I say that knowing my older brother won’t have this. 
I don’t know if he understands what happened to him.  I don’t know if he feels anything right now, but I don’t really care.  He’s not here anymore.  He chose a life different from ours.  See, my brother chose to be alone.  He chose a life of solitude, a life without others.  Being a paraplegic, with little speech ability, shouldn’t give him more rights than anyone else.

I can see that what I’m saying makes you think of me differently.  You think I’m an asshole.  What person will allow themselves to blame their own brother for something that happened to him which he has no control over?  The answer is... are you listening?... I can.  He had every chance to make it right.  Selfishness is not mine, it’s his.  He should have seen the car coming long before it hit him.

We tried to explain my brother’s poor excuse for not being with his family to our great grandfather, but I don’t think he fully understood.  He’s much older now.  Great grandpa, years before, would talk to us about his early days as a young kid when he was reckless, getting into trouble.  We understood this.  We all have our stories of our childhood wrongdoings.   What is different is that, unlike my brother, we knew what was wrong before we did it.  In fact, I knew every possible ending of everything I did.  I didn’t care when my brother’s friends would tell me stories upon stories of my brother acting crazy, bringing false joy to others that came into his circle of irresponsibility.  In fact, I turned a blind eye to the stories of  his drinking and the racists remarks he frequently made.  He did this.  I will not forgive him for what he has done to me. 

Yes, to me.  To me, he has done this.  He hasn’t given enough of his time before leaving this world.  I tried, when I was younger, to ask for his teachings, his attitudes on life.  Something out of him would have been great, a call maybe.  A trip across town to my home would have been easy.  He, one time, when we were younger, with clarity and description, told me everything I should, and shouldn’t do when I left for college.  He even told me to wear a condom.  I would ask him where his condom was when he impregnated his second to last girlfriend but I don’t think he would respond to me.  See, he is incapable of recognizing me the way I should be recognized.  He just sits there in his chair staring straight ahead with drool coming out of the corners of his mouth.

My brother had many friends before the accident.  Most of his friends who found his graces would follow him to wherever he went, hanging on his every word.  Laughter, including giggles from the cutest girls at his school, was like a constant soundtrack to his life.  He would say to his closest friends,  “I would only be greater if people listened to me more.”  

Only be greater?  English was the something that didn't get in the way of my brother’s passion for living life in the fastest way possible.  This included driving. “Most likely to succeed” is what appeared in his yearbook.  The picture of him and his female counterpart sitting on a blue Mustang seemed fitting.  I don’t think he thought the engine he was sitting on would bring him such solitude away from his family or his friends, but it did.  But, he deserved it.

Screw him.  I am better than him, my brother.  In fact, I’m a great person.  What is it that makes me so great?  Why is this all about me?  That is a good question.  The answer is, let me think…  I know my birthday will land on a Tuesday, next month.  I know that the seasons will change.  I even know that I will, or won’t, eat in the next two to three hours.  That is what makes me great.  I don’t need others to be in the same room.  I don’t need people to take care of me.  I don’t need people to be kind to me.  And you know what?  I don’t need you.  I can be by myself. 

Did I tell you about my father?  He was an active participant at our family dinner I talked about earlier.  He hasn’t said anything about my brother in the last three dinners.  I’m proud of him.  He hasn’t fallen to the same politeness my mom and my sister has.  Sure he talked to us in regards to the business side of his son not being able to take care of himself.  He should, right?  He’s the father.   But, more importantly he doesn’t talk about what happened, or about what will happen in the future.  Like me, dad knows not to linger on what he lost.  He has his youngest son just a couple seats down from him, eating the way chicken should be eaten - with two hands that act in concert without aid from others.  I chose the wing, he picked the breast.

“Dad?” my sisters says.

I would yell at my sister for taking my dad‘s attention away from me, but I don’t.  She’s not as selfish as my older brother.  She pays attention to me in her own way.  She is a gentle person.  She often takes time to call, invite me to dinner, visit me, or throw me an email every once in a while.  This moment, in my moment of silent disgust for my lost brother, I allow her to speak to dad about him, my stupid and inconsiderate brother, at this family dinner.  Sometimes my sister and I will tell stories about how our brother would disgrace our family.  With a smile on her face, she would talk about all the crazy things he did before his accident.  She did it in such a cute way.   I could only nod, smile, silently gritting my teeth.  She loves him unconditionally.  Doesn’t she see the pain my brother caused me… and her.

The dessert was presented to us shortly after dinner.  I guess mom was lazy this week, not making peach or pecan pie.  Tonight she only served vanilla ice cream.  If my brother was here, he would be angry.  He loved peach and pecan pie, almost expecting it.  He also loved our family dinners.  My brother would talk, and then talk again about his life.  He was good at lying to his family about things he would say in public.  In public, I mean his friends.  My brother’s friends, and those he allowed in his circle, let him get away with anything that made him feel good.  “Feeling good” to his friends meant a better party that night.  He would often make his surrogates lie about the many “passes” he would make through the poorest African American neighborhoods where he would stop, beat up some poor black kid, and drive off in his Mustang.  He liked that.  

Great grandpa sat quietly this dinner, even through dessert.  I think he’s in deep thought, probably thinking about his favorite great grandson - me.  It is hard to be me, so good.  I’m sure grandpa likes the solitude of being lost in his own mind.  I too like to be left alone sometimes.  I used to leave a note, as a kid, on my bedroom door, “Please Leave me Alone.”   I think it was that day, when someone deciding to not knock on my closed door, when I found the bible.

I would often sit in a room amongst my many sober friends, reading our bible and hoping that others will join us.  It’s Tim’s idea to gather into groups and walk the hallways of our apartment complex to bring our neighbor’s closer to Jesus.  Last year I would have never thought of doing that.  With my the rage I felt for my brother’s departure, I decided to join them on their crusade.   Since then, I’ve found Jesus.  I read the bible as much as I can, even before breakfast.

Okay.  That’s the last draw, you’re thinking.  How could a man with Jesus in his life and a bible on his pillow, continue to blame his brother for getting into an accident? The drunk driver crashed into his car?  It’s not his fault.  The answer is simple. We are rewarded for being good, not making bad choices.  We are congratulated for honoring family and doing what is right.  I did, and will continue to do what is right.   My brother hid himself from his true feelings.  He won their acceptance but ignored his duties.  Today he sits in his chair waiting for others to push him in a direction.  I have found my direction.

I one sentence, I will say this…  

He is evil and I am good.

I have done everything right, I love all.  I accept others for their own over aggressiveness.  I know others will put down our Lord Savior in common speak.  Drinking and debauchery will happen, but I turn a friendly cheek.  I am friendly with all, and I won’t get into an argument unless it pertains to doing the right thing toward man.  I celebrate positive, natural behavior and I even throw down a red wine every once in awhile.  What eldest kinship would push away their own family, not allowing his own brother to be a part of his life, especially someone like me?


My brother is evil.  Taking the bible out of it, I can see you non believers turning around, flashing me and my words a bare ass.  Screw you.  Once again, he left me.   He chose to let a car drive into his car.  I did nothing wrong. 

Didn’t he show you some love?  Didn’t your brother give you advice or hold your hand across the street when you were younger?  The answer is a resounding yes.  But I would say this - that is easy.  That is what any person, prior to gaining any business and/or relationship sense, would do.  Once again, that is easy.  The dozens of friends on his Facebook page before he died in front of me, exhibits his ability to earn, or least, gain friendship.  Accepting the history of your family members should be the starting point to being human, or at least a participating member of his immediate family.  Maybe that time consuming Blackberry he held so tightly in his hands the last time I saw him, should have been put down for a night, or at least a few hours. 

Back to the family dinner.  It’s the time where everyone sits down at the table and forgets (or denies) that anything bad has happened to them the last time they saw each other.  Family members sitting around the table should bring you joy.  It should bring you a sense of togetherness and understanding.  Wouldn’t that be grand?  We all got here on our own free will, we chose to be here despite our failures, whatever they may be.  This is all fantastic, isn’t it.  Well, surprisingly, it is wonderful.  I am, and have been, blessed every time I sit or sat at the same table with my family to enjoy a meal.  It, in the young black families I routinely visit in their poor neighborhoods, would say my help is “off the hook.”  They should know, they have big families with many brothers and sisters congregating in every room, kids are everywhere.  If one grows up not having a particular close relationship with one of their brothers or sisters, it’s not that big.  There are others to play with.  If only I was black.

Okay, you’re thinking, here he goes again.  What man who talks about God and religion would go on with such prejudice?  Did he just say, “black”?   I did.   In fact, I relish every moment I spend with my families, my church, regardless of their race.  I love all.  I will tell you… are you listening?  I envy them and I won’t apologize for that.  Accepting people for what they’ve become, regardless of why they got that way, is a true sense of character.  My brother will never be able to change into someone with character.  He will always have the same expression on his face, so to speak. 


Okay.   Give me time to cry.      

News to everyone out there.  I have three sisters and one brother.  I cannot just kick my brother aside and go on to the next male sibling at the family table.  If I could, I would have done that long ago. In fact, my leanings to the priesthood might not have happened if I had another brother that paid attention to me when he wasn’t  in the same room.  I would have opened up, went for every woman that walked this great earth, and had friends growing out of my ear hole.  Today, with my brother not being able to wipe his own ass, I am left to crawl into a space where I can only turn to… God.

Oh the despair.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re starting to feel sorry for me, or you’re hating me even more and more.  That is fine with me.  I can go into the small closet, inside a room filled with crosses and painted glass to find my answers.  There is a room of people, on most days of the week, looking for acceptance - a way inside.  Outside the walls of the church is scary to some, I know.  I also know that after those people exit those doors, if they have the Lord Jesus Christ in their life, they will be alright.  I have accepted the Lord as my savior.  He is good and he has an answer to all that seek his advice, including me.  Unfortunately, you have to listen way to closely to hear his words.  Sometimes it is in a very low tone, with little, or no base.  We, as believers, hear his every word though, even without earphones pushed against our ears.  That is what is exceptionally good about the church.  He is that powerful.

What I find especially helpful in my search for full understanding of how my brother has pushed me to the church, even further than I thought possible, is the word in the book.  The book and its words offers me great understanding.  It helps teach me of me and why I am what I am, why I act as I do.  It also helps me in understanding why others seek pleasures outside the confines of  immediate companionship.  Relationships become clearer.  She speaks, I listen.  He speaks, I understand.  We can move on to the next scene.   

I said this to my would be wife (years before I lost my brother) “I am so lucky to have you with me.”  We married, based on those common interests - togetherness and God.  Together we look good bed.  I’m a little petite, she’s a little on the big side.  I like big ladies.  The church is big on food.  Anyways, I’m lucky to have her as my wife.  She’s good at things like book sales, talking to others, making lots of friends.

If it wasn’t for my new wife and the church, I would be a different person.  When we get together with the many people that have the same interests, there isn’t that much to talk about except for the words in the good book.  This is the life God has given me.  If only I could talk sports to someone and tell them why my favorite team sucks?  If only I could talk to someone, sharing my ability to snort a milkshake through my nose.  Stupid church.  I want to share those experiences, and others, but I can’t.  These are some things you can’t share with your wife, those in the prayer room, or with your fellow church‘goers. 

Only if I had a brother?

It was a car traveling sixty two miles an hour down a dirt road on an overcast night.  No one is to blame, right?  They were playing around, driving fast.  His girlfriend gave him a blowjob just hours before in the restaurant’s bathroom.  She decided to play a game with him as he drove, diving her head in his crouch.  In the other direction, the man, in his newly bought sports car, looked away at the last second not noticing my brother’s car swerve to the left across the dotted and grooved lines and into his car. 

It happens, right?  It was an accident.  His family will forgive him for being stupid.  What was he thinking?  Doing blow before, and during driving?   That’s reckless.  You’re right; your getting it now.  My brother deserves it.  

As I read the bible the morning before his death, I had a feeling of hatred brewing in my stomach (Please Lord forgive me).  I get those every year or so when I haven’t spoken to my only brother.  But today, it was double.  There is a feeling that permeates in one’s being when you know a member of your family, whom you love, is in the same vicinity of your existence but doesn’t announce it to you.  It's especially hard when some of your immediate family drives over fifteen miles to the airport to lift their muscle less family member out of his airplane seat and onto a wheelchair, when a capable, and God loving sibling waits, reading the bible, only wanting to say hi.

We can’t control others.  We cannot reach out and make others push buttons.  We cannot make others think they way you want them to think.  You can’t make others come to your aid.  You can only make a difference with others if you take it upon yourself.  I know this, I am not stupid.  It’s good for me that I can find peace in the words of others and the good book.  

I tell this to my brother as he sits in the hospital bed, pushed in an upright position to face me and my words.  I end up preaching.  The nurse gave me twenty minutes of “alone” time with my brother.  I plan to make up for years of negligence.

“Don’t you see me?” 
He doesn’t respond.

“I read words.  I see them traveling a mile a minute.  We’re both racers.”
No response.

“I have just as many friends of you.  The difference is that they are not fake.”
No response.

“I’m reckless, just like you.”
No response.

“Silence is priceless to me.  Is it for you?”
No response - maybe a blink.
“It should be.  This is the only thing you will do forever.”
Two blinks.

The bible has taught me more about life than my brother could have shared with me in a lifetime.  The tears I shed for him, outside of this hospital room in private, shows that I still love my brother… even in his lost ways.

Easter is coming soon.

The family dinner.  It's something that works into every bone of your body.  The sight of your loved ones sitting around a table brings memories, it brings joy, it brings with it a fear of not saying the wrong thing, but most of all it brings hope.  Hope that one day, when they’re gone, you will take with you what is intended… love.

It was my idea to hide the eggs in the backyard.  My sister thought that we had to do the same thing we’ve always done.  “The kids like it," is what she said.  In the other room, Mom was busy preparing dinner.

It was a knock on the door that made Mr. Bills, the family dog, get up and run.

“Bills,” Dad yell’s in the other room.

“It’s okay, I got it.”

Mom, with a grin on her face and a slight swab of her hands on her apron, goes to open the front door.

“Oh, my God.”

The family dinner.  It is something that works into every bone of your body.  The sight of your loved ones sitting around a table brings memories, it brings joy, it brings with it a fear of not saying the wrong thing, but most of all it brings hope.  Hope that one day, when they’re gone, you will take with you what is intended… love.

“Son, will you say prayers?”

“Yes mother.  I will say a few words.”



it starts with a motherboard because we all need a mother

then it talks with the other stuff that matters;
gets things moving if things are ready to start moving

it takes a structure. a unit;
walls on each side and a strong foundation, hopefully cement

cement doesn’t work, nor is it accessible to a nine year old

we decided on wood reinforced with a bunch of glue and double tape

you need comfortable seats and something to steer it with.

i went with a seat that’s pointed upright but I couldn’t find a passenger seat to match

gears should get it going

I came up with a way to wind the gears up which is connected with the motherboard

in looking at the food situation, i found that tang was what we should bring;
roll up’s should make it to where we’re going as well;
apples and fruit is what I should eat to keep us strong but it won’t last long;
bread could go up there, i hope.

i packed rather heavy to get where we’re going. i think i’m right since it won’t be warm;
i picked out my favorite hat - my friend thinks so as well

the date is set for the day after tomorrow since those won’t know i’m gone won’t know

I hope my rocket works