The last time I wrote about my brother was also the last time I saw him. That was back in August when he came for ice cream. Since then I have attempted to stay in semi-regular contact with him via text messages or Facebook messenger. Either of which he is only sporadically connected to. I knew that the building he was living in had been, according to him, *sold*. Though I’m pretty sure that *sold* is code for *condemned*. The *great guy* who rented him that fine abode now resides under a bench in a local park. Peter worries about him. The few times we have actually spoken (when he has minutes on whatever phone he is using at the time) he has wondered out loud in a strange sort of self-talking stream of consciousness how he could possibly help him. I have had to remind him repeatedly that he can barely help himself, never mind helping someone else. This is one of the things I do appreciate about my brother. He has a good heart.
I’m not clear what he is doing or where he is living himself. He has given me varied and sometimes conflicting information. Conversations with him are fraught with half stories and half sentences of tangential superficiality, fairly devoid of substance and without even a reasonable facsimile of reality. They are, thankfully, brief. But they do not help with figuring out where he is or what he’s doing.
My best understanding is that he has been staying at a “sober house” somewhere in a rather unsavory area of Brockton. Though it sounds like *sober* in this case refers only to alcohol. Which has never been Peter’s self-medication of choice. He complained repeatedly about the distance he needed to travel from this sober house to get his dose of methadone daily. In earlier conversations I questioned his ongoing need for the methadone. My limited understanding of the utilization of methadone is that it was supposed to be a short term fix, a substitute for opioids that was supposed to be titrated down over a short span of time. Not the 15 plus years Peter has been getting daily doses of it. But those questions always got met with anger and lashing out in an accusatory I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I sort of way, and never led anywhere good, never-mind an answer. So I stopped asking. The last time I spoke with him I simply listened and suggested he call his case-worker to see if there was perhaps another clinic closer by. Turns out that he qualified for a free ride to and from the clinic daily. Our tax dollars at work.
My recent attempts to reach Peter have either been ignored entirely or, in the case of the most recent few, he has simply texted that he is busy and will call when he has a free minute. I try not to get angry with him. I try to remind myself who he is and how he has gotten this way. But for some reason I got aggravated this time. I sent him a message saying basically, “I have 2 jobs, 3 kids, a dog, a house, etc etc. And I’m not too busy for you. What the fuck are you so busy with?!”
He timorously called me, stammering and stuttering excuses about losing track of time and having appointments and needing to take care of business. Mostly he was apologetic for not being in better touch. I don’t know why I push for contact with him. I must be some special kind of stupid. Because I’m disappointed every time. The conversation was carbon copy of most of our conversations with the one exception that it was a more convenient time for me than his usual phone calls are. It’s actually frighteningly similar to listening to Trump speak now that I think of it. Everyone else is a loser, in his way, tripping him up and not letting him succeed. He’s doing great, working on great things, if only people understood how great he really is. His next big break is right around the corner, bound to happen any day, he’s on the verge of greatness. It’s hard to interrupt with sensible questions like “Where are you living?” because that interposes a reality that doesn’t necessarily work with his gestalt. In other words, I learned nothing new.
In the meantime, I heard from mother. We have been in minimal contact, mostly through texts and on Facebook. She also sent the kids chanukah gifts (which I had them call immediately upon receiving to thank her for). I had ignored her most recent text messages complaining that I never initiate contact with her (she’s correct. I don’t). This time she asked if we could talk, saying that she had something very important to ask. I made the mistake of saying yes.
She wanted to tell me that she has reached out to contact a doctor who would assist her in ending her life. Actually, she was calling to ask if I cared. I’m surprised she didn’t hear my eyes roll through the phone (or the deeply dramatic sigh of exhaustion that I did nothing to hide). She went on to explain that she is in constant physical, spiritual, emotional and psychic pain and can no longer tolerate her existence. Insert awkwardly long uncomfortable pause. Ok. Honestly, I have very little to say in response. What does one say in response to this kind of proclamation anyway?! As if this was actually a pinnacle of positivity, the conversation spiraled down from there. She complained that I make no effort to have or maintain a relationship with her. She complained that she has no relationship with *her grandchildren*. She complained that (basically) she has been an adoring faithful mother and that I have been nothing but resentful and ungrateful. She complained that her life is empty, worthless, meaningless. The awkward silence stretched out. I said nothing. What is there to say in response?
Peter called me again a few days later. Great news(sic). His free ride to the methadone clinic had an accident with him in the car and now he’s suing them and expecting a big settlement! I asked if he was hurt. He told me he’s working with a great lawyer, “like the ones you see advertised on daytime television” he said as if I watch daytime television. At any rate, he said that the lawyer feels certain there will be a big windfall for him. I asked again if he was ok. “Oh, yeah, mostly. Maybe a little whiplash. Hurt my neck I think. Having to go to physical therapy to prove the case.” He went on to remind me that this is not his first time on this carousel. He has sued both UPS for a car accident he was in with one of their delivery vans and some big box store for (pretending that) a shelf fell on his head in the past, using the same type of slick (aka: daytime television) lawyer. He was already counting the money. Not to mention already spending it. Typical Peter, he did offer me a loan.
Not being one who is usually at a loss for words, I seem to find myself there whenever I have contact with my family of origin. Not that it really matters. While my brother went on and on about suing the car company and living on easy street for the rest of his life I sat on my end of the line wondering how I so badly lost the family lottery.
Once again, unbelievably, the conversation went even further downhill. In other news in his life, working with his case worker, he was made aware of the fact that included in his state funded disability insurance he has access to dental care. As I have noted previously, most of his teeth are rotten from either drugs or poor nutrition or both. I’m sure he has not seen a dentist in his adult life, never mind the fact that he can probably count on one hand the number of times he has brushed his teeth. So recently, realizing he could get dental care for free, he went to a dentist who apparently deemed his teeth irreparable and pulled most of them with the goal of making a set of dentures. Peter proudly proclaimed that he has fewer than a handful of teeth in his entire mouth. Quickly following up by saying he can’t wait to get his new choppers. Also quickly followed up by inviting me to a steak dinner on him when he gets his teeth and the lawsuit money. You simply can’t make this shit up.