I really don't even know what possessed me to write this. This isn't something I do. We'll just see where this goes. There's a lot that's never been said. You'll just have to bear with me and how disjointed this might come off, but I'm just in my thoughts, and this is how they flow.
Sometimes I wonder what I'd have been like, or what I would've become had you been around more. I wonder about the lessons I missed or the personality traits that I would've been able to control and be more aware of.
I remember a lot. I remember you coming to stay with us for a couple days for my birthday when I was like 10 or 11. I remember you and Mike going in his room and closing the door to talk about something, then him charging out of the room in a fury, punching a hole in the wall in the process. It was like some of the stuff you see on dramatic ass episodes of sitcoms, but that was all the way real. I still don't know what happened there, no one will tell me, though I picked up a vague story through eavesdropping and my own inferences. He has your temper though, I picked it up too. Downright explosive at times, but I learned to control it over time. You did too, so I learned, but I wish you'd been there to show me a long time ago, could've saved me a lot of time, and wasted energy, and fights and scars and bruises.
I remember you asking me if I ever wondered why my half-brother was only 6 weeks older than me. I understood the basics well enough, but I didn't know if I was ready for the weight of the answer at the time – I was only 11! I said no, I never wondered – you probably knew better though – I've always been extra curious about everything. You told me when I DID wonder, to ask you – you'd explain. Once I was older, before you went down – I used to HOPE you'd ask me that question, because I didn't know how to broach the topic – I think I was ready for the answer at that point though. Never came up again though. Sometimes you just want confirmation of what you already know.
I remember when you were first diagnosed with diabetes. I was 13. It must have scared you though, to write me that letter you wrote. It scared the hell out of me too – enough for my mom, aunts, everyone to be mad at you for a WHILE – telling a 13-year-old to be prepared for the day you die soon probably isn't the best idea, and I'm sure you probably realized that later in hindsight. I understand it now though – that expressive quality, I got that from you too, I just keep it in a little better than you were able to. The diabetic coma that later took your life, coupled with Mama's strokes did MUCH to make me more conscious of my own health - albeit a lot later than it should have. Still nowhere near where I want to be weight-wise today, but I'm a lot healthier in my approach, and I'm much more proactive about it than i had been in the past few years once football and everything else was gone.
I remember the two weeks I stayed with you after graduation. Was THAT a disaster or what? We bumped heads CONSTANTLY, all because for the most part, we're just alike - aside from your neat-freak, near-OCD demeanor. In hindsightn, I DID learn a lot more about you than I knew beforehand. Mama came and saved me from that before one of us killed the other lol, because EVERYONE knew that was a catastrophic event waiting to happen.
Think I picked up your charm along the way too. From all I've heard about your younger days, you were QUITE the charmer amongst the ladies – kinda explains the whole half-brother thing too right? Married my mom, divorced – married my half-brothers' mom, divorced – then married again. That third marriage that I didn't even KNOW about until that time I missed the Greyhound on the way back to N.O. after Thanksgiving vacation in Jena, and you had to pick me up to stay with you for the night way out in the boondocks somewhere. I kinda wonder sometimes though, were you ACTIVELY charming women or just being yourself, which is in itself, charming. Cuz I wonder about MYSELF that way, actually. Sometimes a female says she likes me, and I wonder if I actually charmed her, or if she just likes who I am naturally - then most of the time I push them away because I'm not so sure. Damaging, I'm sure, but its just one of those things I guess, those missed lessons.
Your grandson - man he's growing up fast. Hard to believe he made 4 years old a couple days ago. It's still an odd juxtaposition of the celebration of his life and your passing 2 days apart every year. He's a handful though, and everyone says he looks more like me than he does big brother lol. Has a lot of my personality also, probably the main reason he's so spoiled by me. He'll do just fine until I have my own - like you were tryna press me to do from the time I was like 19 lol - I'm sure you're glad you got the 2 years with him that you did though.
All in all, I still have those questions - how much different would life had been were you really around in my formative years. To hear and read so much about the things that people deal with as a result of having one parent only - it makes one wonder. I think I came out ok though, and I'm at least thankful for those last 5 years or so of consistent contact we had, and the effort you put forth into maintaining a relationship at that point - made it a lot easier to make peace with your passing. I'm still growing as a man, and I believe if nothing else, your absence for that major chunk of my life made me more headstrong, gave me a better sense of focus, so you pretty much gave me one of my better personality traits in a hands-off manner. Thank you.
Happy Father's Day.