Thursday, May 14, 2009


This one will not be easy. I'll say in advance, I'm posting this here because it needs to be put down. Feel free to comment, I welcome insight, but probably won't want to talk about it.

Back story: my brother lives in Reno, NV. He is 53. He ended up out west back in the late 70s. That in itself has a long story, and here's the quick version. Dropped out of high school, had a couple of jobs, got in trouble, lost one of his best friends to a tragic accident during a camping trip, took off on a bus (never forget that day) to New Mexico, where he worked and lived for a while (and oh how I wish I'd saved the letters he wrote...), eventually came back and apprenticed as an electrician. After retiring from the Navy, my father had started a company that would be doing work overseas (in Iran, just before the hostage crisis), and my brother signed up. This was amazing, as up until this time their relationship had been very, very rocky. This working together proved to be a very good healing time for them, and my brother matured. Unfortunately, during this time my parents' marriage dissolved, and my father came home to try to salvage things. My brother witnessed the anguish my father experienced, and thus began a rift between he and my mother. This was especially upsetting, since they had up until then been very, very close. Not long after dad and my brother returned from Iran, my brother decided to load up his truck (a 56 Chevy pick-up he had named Rosebud, shift on the column) and drive west. His girlfriend invited herself along (she was escaping something else entirely) and he agreed. They lived in Gillette, WY for about nine years, and ultimately moved to Reno for better jobs.

At some point in this relationship, brother and g.f. married. It was an uneasy relationship in many ways. She became a Jehovah's Witness, and my brother is pretty much agnostic. He likes to drink, and she viewed the drinking as a problem (and one she was trying to fix by witnessing to him often.) At one point they separated, and she called me and told me more things about my brother than I cared to know (including how rough he was during sex.) Then they reconciled and made a second go of things. Unfortunately, the problems ran deep and they ultimately separated again. During this time, the wife was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (her mother had ultimately died from complications of this disease and it's treatment) and she needed medical care, but was not insured. So, they came to an agreement which involved not finalizing the divorce so that she could stay covered under my brother's health insurance. Then things became so bad (complications from mediation) that my brother agreed that she live in the house with him again, so that he could help take care of her.

Well, yesterday my mom called. I could tell by her voice it was something upsetting. It seems my brother was served with a restraining order yesterday at work. Mom was able to get out of him that they had an argument over the weekend (the same as always, her confronting him about drinking and trying to witness to him, and him getting angry and telling her to leave it alone), but we don't know the extent of what happened. So, now he is not allowed to go home; to the home that he had opened up to her so he could help during her medical complications. He had a friend staying there who recently separated from his wife, and now he can't go back either.

The rest of the family is out here not knowing what to think; we don't know the extent of their argument, we don't know if she has reason to be concerned for her safety, or if this is another manipulation on her part (and there have been many) to control his behavior. It is hard being this far removed, both physically and through the passage of time. Obviously we want to reach out to him, but there is always the possibility that his reactions to her attempts to 'help' him were indeed angry, maybe violent. Difficult to consider.

Time will certainly tell.


  1. While I do not agree with any type of physical violence, I could not imagine living with someone whom I can't stand to be with AND who is also ill and needs to be taken care of all day. For some reason, the book "Misery" comes to mind; yikes. Hang on and be there for your brother is the only advice I can offer. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

  2. Thanks, Ruth. Honestly, I don't think there was any actual violence involved. It's still a very sad situation, on both sides, and my heart breaks for my brother and his (almost) ex-wife. It's such a helpless feeling.

  3. I really like Turmoil :) It is the best!