Last year on 9/29/15 my elder of two brothers died suddenly of severe heroin cold turkey withdrawal complications. I wrote a piece about that day, and my brother Steve entitled, Jails, Institutions, and Death”. It can be found on my profile by clicking on my name at the top of this page.. I’m going to leave photos of our family throughout this piece to illustrate that addicts & alcoholics are just like everyone else; they come from regular families. They are not all inanimate loser reject deadbeats. Addiction is a disease, like cancer, and those who are afflicted have regular families full of people who love the sick dearly. The stigma on addicts has got to stop. My brother Steve was: loving, giving, generous, polite, funny, cuddly, and so much more. Our entire family loved him so very much, although, Steve did not love himself. Due to his low self esteem, and the stigma, he loathed, LOATHED himself. I’m sure any hardcore addict can totally understand that. If I could say just one last thing to my brother it would be, “You are not alone and I felt the same exact way when I used to drink. Let’s do this together”.
Above, the top photo is of our maternal Great Grandfather, Claude C. Taylor and his Indian motorcycle (and pal), our maternal Grandparents, Charlene and Robert/Bob. Grandpa flew bombers in WWII; Grandma was also a pilot. She won the 1967 all female cross-country air race dubbed the ‘Powder Puff Derby’. I love the picture of them in the photo booth; it shows my Grandpa’s sense of humor in his quirky smile. He never lost that sense of humor; he would pull on the girls’ hair, (mine/my cousins’), and quickly walk away saying, “Grandma did it!”… Grandma passed in ’11 and Grandpa just in 6/16. He set his eyes on her when she was just 15 and the rest is history. They married when Grandma was 17; Grandpa was 21. They had seven children and remained married until her untimely passing; grandpa was holding her hand even then..
My Mother is the 4th & middle child in the family, pictured above in the white dress and blonde hair. (Easter Sunday). My Grandparents had high morals, values, and expectations for their kids. They also loved each one of them individually very much. They passed those traits down through the generations, which I try to employ with my own sons. My Mom is a sensitive person like me, and she absorbed every bit of the love that my Great Grandparents and my Grandparents had to give. I really appreciate that because it surely helped make me who I am today. (Unfortunately not pictured is my Uncle Bruce, the youngest), who was scouted straight out of High School to play for the SF Giants). His life has been forever changed by the disease of addiction as well.
Here is my Dad’s mom, Grandma D. Such a saint. She is not quite herself any longer, and my loving Grandfather takes amazing care of her. They have been married about 70 years. I’ll leave a photo below of my dear Grandpa D. while he was in the Navy during WWII. His ship was attacked by the enemy twice and sunk, yet he made it home to his love. They married, and also had seven children like my Mom’s parents did.
My Grandpa and Grandma still live in the same 3 bedroom home that they purchased right after the war in 1947. He fell for my Grandma when she was on vacation to CA from Maine as a late teen. A long courtship followed; they married, and remain joined throughout good times and hard. They have had to bury two of their 7 adult children.
This is a picture from the day our parents got married: Aug 1/1970. They were married just three days after my Mom’s 19th birthday; my dad was a little over 21. On the left are my Mom’s parents, and on the right of my Dad are his parents- my Grandma and Grandpa D. I love them so much. Steve was their 1st Grandson, and they simply oogled over him- adored him.
Steve was loved from the moment he was born by many people. He was never an inanimate ‘junkie loser reject’, or whatever other ignorant term uneducated people use against addicts. He was a sweet, afflicted soul.
These are our parents. Just a couple of regular, hard working, very loving, God fearing people who have done their very best to raise three children. I couldn’t, and wouldn’t ask for any other set of parents. They will celebrate their Forty-Sixth wedding anniversary on August 1, 2016.
Our parents love hard. They love each other; they love us ‘kids’. They love my sons like they are their own children; my boys’ dad abandoned us while I was pregnant with twins. Without them, I would not be the mother I am.
I included the two photos above because the one on top is of my dearly departed brother Steve at our maternal Grandparents’ ranch here in CA where we held his Celebration of Life service. The lower photo is of his only child- his son, Cruz the day of the service. Both photos are taken from similar vantage points, yet about 39 years apart. It was a beautiful day on the Central Coast with family and long time old friends who truly loved Steve. As heartbreaking as it was to lose him to the disease of addiction, their is hope and comfort in knowing that he is no longer in any type of pain, and that we will be together again one day. If there is still anything that I need to say to him- I can tell him then. I just can’t wait to wrap my arms around him once more, and forever.
The stigma against addicts is so strong that some people are incapable of believing that their childhood ‘heroes’ were addicts and even died from drug overdoses because of whatever reason. I have lived through addiction on more than one level- more than one time. I’ve known professional athletes that lost everything due to their personal addictions..
First off, my brother Steve was an addict since I was about 8 years old. Brothers and sisters know more about each other than their parents do, and more often than not, they keep things to themselves. I did not know the extent of, or what drugs my older brother was doing at that time; I was quite young. I had no idea.
I developed my own alcoholism after my 1st son was born. I wrote a piece about my getting sober and it can also be found on my profile page entitled, “Nearly Took My Life”. If I had not gotten sober on 8/1/11 I would not have my children (now 17,14 & 14), and I’d probably be dead. I have had a very patient, generous, loving man and Marine Corps Vet in my life for 10 years. He stepped up to a full plate that another man walked away from. He also has two teens of his own- 1 that lives with us full time, (16 & 14). Although we are not married, (which I’m sure our parents would much rather we did), we still instill all of the same values and morals into our kids that our Great Grandparents did with our Grandparents down to us. My hunny’s parents are also still married; they will be celebrating their 46th anniversary this September 2016. The point is, we love hard and we come from a long line of lovers- people who love(d) unconditionally. In order for this ugly, dichotomous stigma against addicts to turn around it has to start in the home, then spread through Social Media and Word of Mouth.
I hope and pray that addiction never touches your life the way it has mine, or my parents in regard to my eldest brother’s death. No one deserves to die like that no matter what. If it has, I’m sincerely sorry for your loss(es), and know that you are in my daily prayers.
So many times I used to pray to God to save my ex from his addiction so that he could be a father to our sons. That was many years ago now, and I have a great man who has virtually raised the boys since they were: 7, 4 & 4. All the while I prayed that prayer before I met this wonderful man I had no idea that God a better, bigger plan in store for me and my boys. As much as I was praying for my sons’ “dad’s” life to be saved from the lifestyle he was living, I had no clue that Christ was petitioning on my behalf to save my life from being destroyed. I was being loved so hard by God that no matter what I did to ‘try n’ make it work’ it would never work because God loves me and my boys, and He has a plan. No one is perfect, but so far that plan has worked out pretty well. My hunny is the most supportive, patient man, who likes to have safe, sober fun with me, and always has. He is intellectually stimulating, and when I ever even think of the alternative, (which I never do), I just can’t imagine. I hope and pray that one day he (my ex) will get it together, but it doesn’t seem likely. My boys are lavished with love from all angles- one of which was my dear brother Steve, who they miss very much. He loved them, and they him. They also love my Trev, and Trevor loves them as his own.
^Disneyland, 1st trip with all the kiddos, April 2010.^
^Early morning PONY little league game, (puffy eyes). Aptos, Ca. ’15.
Last, I’m including a photo of my big brother with the one true love of his life- his only child, his son Cruz. There is nothing like the bond between parent and child. Sure, siblings may know more about each other than parents know about their kids at times, and peers may have more influence at times, but the bond that is created at birth and during those first years is undeniable and unbreakable. Yes, it is a horrible tragedy that Cruz is going to grow up knowing his Daddy died from addiction. However, he has Daddy’s blanket, other momentos, videos with Daddy and more. Memories are being shared with him as he grows into a little man. He’s such a sweetie- a lover of love like his Daddy.
We love hard because that’s the way it needs to be. We do it because of so many reasons like tomorrow is never a promise. Addiction does not discriminate; it can grasp the lives of any family at any time. My hope is that dialogues may be opened throughout not only the general front, but more importantly on the home front. I remember being physically unable to speak to my brother about his addiction when I was a teenager. That changed as I became an adult, but was never an easy topic. I talk openly with my sons about drug use, what it leads to- they’ve seen it 1st hand- and am honest with them. I also keep them busy, and count my blessings. Every single night right before bed I give each of them a hug and forced kiss on the back of the head. I say, “Goodnight; I love you; sweet dreams; see you in the morning”. Love HARD. #VoicesInRecovery
^I believe this is a coffee shop/cafe in Santa Barbara, but I’m probably wrong.