My Brother

I read the post “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother”, and I’ve been hemming and hawing about writing about my brother…
I’ve seen enough shit said about that lady that I feel compelled to write about my experience.
What you need to know first and foremost.
My brother was born normal.
A six pound, seven ounce blonde haired blue eyed baby boy.
A boy!
The only boy.
The one to carry on the family name, the family savior.
His hair was thick and white-blonde. It would stick up sometimes and my dad would call him “Haystack Calhoun”.
His eyes were silver blue with black eyelashes so long you could trip over them.
Everyone, (and I mean EVERYONE) commented on his hair, his eyelashes, and his beautiful smile.
Whenever this happened I, the little brown one would go to another room.
They BOY glowed while the girl glowered.
We got along the way siblings do when one is the obvious favorite…but we would have fun too.
Fast forward to 1983 when J was 4 years old.
It was getting towards bedtime, and my mom told him to pick up his toys.
He bent over and said he couldn’t, it hurt too bad.
My mom thought he was messing around and started to get angry until J started crying.
REALLY crying.
My dad took him to the emergency room, it was a Sunday night.
I don’t know when exactly they diagnosed him, but he was admitted to the hospital that night…his liver and spleen were enlarged.
I remember praying to God, “please don’t let J die.”
My brother was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
What followed were 6/7 years of hospital stays, spinal taps, bone marrow tests, radiation to his brain and later testicles-so much for being the one to carry on the family name, chemotherapy (we acquired a Siamese cat and named it “Kimo”), hairloss-twice, prednasone and it’s weird food cravings (hot chopped cherry peppers and Miracle Whip sandwiches on Wonder bread…anyone?), relapses, test medication-he’s in medical books as a guinea pig, a military doctor who fucked up treatment and destroyed J’s records to cover his ass before being transferred, pneumonia and double pneumonia because some fucktard mother sent her snotty nosed child to school to sneeze in J’s face full well knowing his condition (he had a lung biopsy), prayers, tears, friends made and lost because they lost their fight…
Then the day came that he went off treatment.
The radiation treatments to the brain had triggered a seizure disorder.
Then the seizures triggered an anger disorder.
We took Karate class together (I begged for ballet, but J wanted Karate, so we did what J wanted), and there was a move we did together everytime there was an exhibition where I’d stand behind him and put my hands around his throat and then he’d grab my pinkies and throw me. It was intended to show people that it didn’t matter the size of the attacker, if you got them by the pinkies they’d let go…all it did was give J the idea that he could kick my ass.
While my mother was alive she took care of everything, and his temper was kept in fairly reasonable check.
Then she died of breast cancer and the world fell apart.
J was 12.
The radiation had also affected his growth. He was small.
The amount of school he missed caused him to be 2-3 years older than most of his classmates.
Even while sick he was the golden boy that everyone adored.
Now the spotlight was gone. His main caretaker, his mother was gone.
His father was unreachable, and the sister that he’d never gotten along with all that well was just as lost as him.
He was picked on at school because of his size and his age, he hated school.
My dad would do his homework for him every night because J refused to do it.
Then my dad got it in his head that he wanted to learn how to “Shag”, it’s the state dance of SC.
So he left J and I alone.
I wasn’t the most attentive, caring sister.
My brother and I had issues, there was no doubt. But now things got dangerous.
He was angry, alone, and had now where to channel it.
It didn’t take much, just a snotty remark from me and his face would turn purple, his eyes would get glassy and he’d start beating me.
The first time I thought it was just him being an ass, but I didn’t hit him back because I knew I’d hurt him and then I’d be the one getting in trouble.
It continued.
For months.
He went after me once and my dog, a yellow lab named P-Nutz bit him defending me.
My dad never believed me, and he threatened to get rid of my dog if he ever bit J again.
After that I’d hide in my room with the dogs and the phone whenever J went into a rage.
There was no lock on my door so I’d put a chair under the door knob and stand with my back to the door pushing against it.
The only ones he didn’t go after me in front of was our dad or another adult.
He did it in front of my friend L, in front of my boyfriend…
He even threatened to throw my boyfriend through a window at one point.
I finally broke down and wrote my dad a letter telling him exactly what J would do.
By then my dad had a girlfriend and my brother and I were meaning even less to him.
My father continued to deny it, and when he got remarried they put my brother on testosterone to help him grow so that he would be “normal”.
When J threatened her son, my father suddenly believed me.
But he never apologized.
They sent my brother away to a mental hospital, then to a “big brother” person to help influence good behavior, then just away.
He lived in a foster type home for awhile then another.
He was angry all the time, he’d expose himself on the school bus and scream “suck my dick!”
Somehow he asked a girl to prom, she said yes, and he went all out renting a limo, doing all kinds of things…she left him at the prom.
He started acting out again.
My father kept threatening him that if he didn’t shape up he’d end up in jail “where some big guy will ass rape you!”
…yeah, that helped…
My father went on to have another son. A new family savior.
My brother has effectively been replaced.
He came out to visit once when Boo was 2.
He stayed with my Aunt, but would come over to my place while she was at work so he wouldn’t be bored.
He was watching TV and Boo got in his way.
I was in the bathroom when I heard my little one scream.
He’d punched Boo.
“He was bugging me.”
He raised his fist to my Aunts grandkids who were bugging him as well and he hasn’t been out to visit since.
I love my brother, because he is my brother.
Later that year he was hit by a taxi while crossing the street.
He suffered a brain bleed and almost died.
He recovered.
While he was in the hospital my father’s wife made the statement “If you haven’t got your health…”
After he got out of the hospital he got a job and was renting a room in a house.
My granddad sent him $20 for his birthday and J bought a sword…
“for protection.”
The guy he rented a room from called the police one night saying that my brother held the sword to his throat.
J went to jail.
His attorney was an egomaniac piece of shit who took the case pro bono “out of the goodness of my heart”.
Meanwhile, realizing he was useless, (he’d explained to my father that there was really no choice but for J to do time-my father was fine with it) I began researching and contacting the DA involved with the case, contacting the Mental Health Dept of SC (the test in SC to determine mental competence consisted of two questions: “do you understand the difference between right and wrong?” do you realize you committed a crime?”), and a doctor.
Dr. Jimmie Holland from Memorial Sloan-Kettering and her research into the after effects of treatment of childhood cancer was a godsend.
I called her and explained the situation. She put me in touch with her son, an attorney who threatened J’s attorney with a Writ of Habeas Corpus if he didn’t get moving on my brother’s case and do right by him.
J did end up doing some time, but then he was given probation.
He joined an evangelical church and decided he wanted to be a missionary.
He applied to Jerry Fallwell’s college and got a preliminary acceptance.
He thought that meant he was in. His church was going to help him get there.
I called the school and spoke to admissions to get the story straight, and explained about my brother. I asked them to draft another letter that they were awfully sorry, but they were full for the next year” then called J’s pastor. He was a nice enough man who appreciated the miracle that is J’s life, but I needed him to understand J’s reality.
A few months later while still on probation J said God “called” him to witness and carry The Word to the carnival people who’d made a stop in town.
He’d joined the traveling carnival.
I called his probation officer who didn’t believe me when I told him J’d joined the carnival.
“I told him he can’t leave the state.”
J’s response to me was that “God’s will trumps the laws of man.”
I called the company who rant he carnival and they told me that they weren’t responsible for whoever joined up as a “helper”.
(Comforting thought isn’t it?)
He’d call me occasionally from the road. He was essentially homeless.
I was terrified that he’d lose his temper and end up dead.
A year later he was in New York living with someone and playing video games all day.
He called his probation officer in SC and turned himself in.
He friended our half-brother on Facebook, and it was through my father’s wife that I found him.
We keep in touch pretty regularly, now and again he texts me pictures of himself.
He’s always smiling.
He’s with another Evangelical group, but this time he seems to be happy.
I haven’t heard of any violence, and I’m staying hopeful.
He was born normal. Leukemia treatments brought about mental and personality disorders and seizures.
Because of a parent’s denial he never received the proper treatment(s) to deal with his disorder(s).
As an adult he has too much pride to believe he’s “mentally ill” so he will never seek help.



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