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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guitar Man-The Brother I Loved

Dave is pictured on the bottom row in the middle, making a funny face

Back several years ago, my father was dating a very nice woman named Audrey. My mother had passed years earlier and dad met this kind- hearted nurse in the hospital. The relationship did not last long since my father was an alcoholic, but I will never forget her. Thoughtfully, she invited my sister and I over for a slumber party to get to know us better. And so the story goes.......

Audrey knew I was eyeing her beautiful, wooden,folk guitar. She was right, It seemed to call my name. She picked up the guitar and soon we were all singing along. I knew the guitar was something I should try since music runs in my family. It was such a touching moment as Audrey handed off her precious guitar into my arms.

The morning I returned home from the slumber party I started practicing the guitar. It became evident to me right away that this was not a gift I possessed. I can sing and write quite well, but the folk guitar had a different suiter in mind. God had always meant this to be in the hands of my brother David.

Wow, talk about raw talent. My older brother David is one year older than my twin sister and I. One day, David asked me if he could play around with the guitar and jam on it. I of course thought, why not? In just days, he could play almost anything. David was what I like to call a "musical genius ." Talk about humility on my end.

No matter instrument, voice, charm, or the comic in him, Dave is a prize. He has played bongos, drums, piano, ukulele, been lead singer and guitarist in bands, I think you have an idea of the God given talent he was blessed with.

When David was in the room, there was nothing else. He pulled you in with his charm, wit and talent. Every time my twin sister and I would bring a date home in our early twenties, Dave would have them totally transfixed & laughing at his jokes. Linda and I would not see our boy friends for hours. Dave would then become their buddy and they were forever friends. This was a frustratiion for us, especially when we would bring our girl pals over. Guess what, they usually ended up hanging out with him and not us. Eventually, he would end up dating them. Uggggh!!!

Dave and his guitar were eternally bonded. Our entire family used to joke around that the guitar was just another appendage on David's body. Whether Dave was sad, happy or just looking for love, he'd just pick up his old friend, the guitar.

Family and friends would tell you that David, Linda and I looked and acted the most alike in our family of five. It was pretty commonplace to see Dave, Linda, and I, singing for fundraisers, weddings and funerals. David would often invite his two younger sisters up to the stage to sing harmony with him and the band.

On this December day, as I decorated my foyer with fresh Pine branches for the Christmas holiday, I turned my attention to the breaking news story. My then husband, screamed for me to come see what was on the tv set. I knew from the serious tone in his voice, this was not good.

It is still very difficult to talk about and even harder to write.If I write this story,then it must be true, right? There he was, my beautiful brother on the nine o'clock news. The headline went like this:
" Local Northwest airlines baggage employee, caught stealing luggage."
"Oh my God, I exclaimed!" What more suffering can alcohol cause in this family."  Understand, I was not saying this because of feelings of shame seeing Dave on the news, I was saying it because addiction had already wreaked havoc to too many of those I loved. I also saw death in my dear brothers eyes.
As I looked at my brothers' haggard image on the tv screen, looking back at me, I had a feeling of foreboading. I could sense that he was at the end stages of alcoholism. I just sobbed. Then the dreams....

I remember one dream I had soon after the news story aired. This dream was so vivid, I believed it to be real upon wakening. I dreamdt my brother was in the ground grabbing and clawing at the soil and reaching out for me. He was caged in a dark like tomb, and could see me, but couldn't get out. I surmised that this dream was symbolic of David's dark disease of alcoholism. David was having a very difficult time breaking the shackles of addiction. This same disease took our mother from us twenty nine years earlier. David was struggling with the shackles , that was his addiction. David tried to crawl out of that dark tomb of addiction and went throught treatment several times, unfortunately the power of his addiciton was too strong.

Sadly, the addiction to drugs and alcohol, killed my beautiful brother in 2002. He was found dead in his apartment. They called it an accidental death. They had found large amounts of pain killers and alcohol in his body, which shut down his respiritory system.

Please, if there is anything my family has learned through this, it is that there is hope and help for anyone struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. Noone has to die from this debilitating disease. Let the senseless loss of our brother, help others, so David's death is not in vain.  My brother died way too young.  He died at the same age my mom died from her alcoholism. They both died at the young age of 39.  I hope my story can help someone out there you know, fighting for their life over this disease.

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