I have an uncle who was born with a disability. It isn’t that he cannot walk or talk, but there is certainly something not right with his Brain. His name is Brian, but most refer to him as E.T. or some other reference to his appearance, which could easily scare most. Brian is almost six feet tall, but weighs only 83 pounds. He closely resembles a human skeleton.
Last summer he underwent chemotherapy to treat a tumor he had in one of his lungs. He hasn’t fully recovered, but he continues his same habits.
Brian has an alcohol addiction. He is also a chain smoker, and he uses any drugs that he can get his hands on. He is 61 years old, but has been carrying on this type of lifestyle since he was a child. It seems that someone always finds an excuse for his behavior.
While my grandmother was alive, she was constantly bailing him out of trouble. Since he was an addict, he would break into homes around the community in search of anything he could find to sell. On one occasion, he even stole my pedal bike. I remember my dad going to Brian’s house, taking the bike home, along with a stern warning to my uncle.
When Grandma died, she left Brian everything. A home completely furnished, a shed filled with tools, and a good share of money. The home was set up in such a way that all of his sisters have to sign a waiver in order to sell. At one time, Uncle Brian tried to will his home to a drug dealer in exchange for drugs and a portion of money that he owed. When he couldn’t get everyone to sign the paper, he was nearly killed by the drug dealer.
In our community, residents have been more than patient with the antics of my uncle. On one occasion, Brian walked into this guy’s porch, where he spotted a Coleman lantern. He grabbed the lantern, knocked on the inside door, and sold the lantern to the home owner for twenty five dollars. Talking to the gentleman afterwards, he said that he felt stupid because when Brian left, he decided to take a good look at the great lantern he bought, only to find his name etched in marker on the opposite side. He bought his own lantern. Brian, on the other hand, made enough money to buy a bag of drugs for the evening.
Brian is the uncle who has also done other dumb things, such as trading his television for a VCR. I remember him calling to brag about this wonderful piece of technology, only to find that he still needed a television to use it. He also traded his stove for a load of firewood, definitely not thinking far into the future. When we give him food, he invites his loser friends up to the house, and they eat everything and then leave him penniless and without food. He has spent time in jail, and he liked jail so much that after getting out, he actually tried to break back in jail because all his friends live there.
Uncle Brian is very vindictive as well. On one occasion, he broke into three of his brothers’ homes, and stole things, later selling them. Of course they got mad at him, and refused to cut firewood for Brian, who usually sold it anyway. The next week during church services, the preacher gave a sermon about this poor man who was rejected by his own family members, and left to starve. The sermon went on to tell how a kind gentleman from the parish helped the man, and now he is forever changed. That evening, we heard a news report stating that Brian had been arrested for stealing from a good parish citizen. Brian had robbed the man who tried to help him.
This gets worse. When my grandmother died, the family put their money together and bought her a very expensive marble headstone, one with an angel on top. Two weeks after her death, Brian visited her grave, and stole the headstone, and tried to sell it at a local pawn shop. The pawn shop owner was quick to report it.
Brian is now at his home, suffering from the effects of a lung tumor. He sits in an old beat up chair, not the brand new one my grandmother left him, as he sold every bit of the things that he was left by his loving mother. He never heeded the doctors orders to quit smoking, and because of this, he may not have much longer in the world. However, many who have scolded Brian for his lifestyle are deep in the ground, and he still walks among us. Funny how things turn out sometimes.