Don't Mistaken a Kind Heart for Weakness...
I couldn't think of a better reason to re-ignite my blogging, than to share with you a story of a humble man with a gentle heart...my brother.
You can't judge a book by it's cover...no words have ever rang more true when it came to my late brother Ricky. He passed away two days ago, suffering from a massive heart attack...no warning...holding his granddaughter one minute...gone the next.
Upon receiving the news, I was instantly overcome with guilt. I began questioning myself as to why I had let months pass without calling him, why I had not known he had moved, why I had not made the effort to congratulate him on his first granddaughter born this year, and why I had broken a vow that we had made several times in the past...keep in touch.
Ricky was only one of seven children my mother gave birth to, before meeting my father & having me. In case you didn't quite catch that...he was my half brother. I just shuttered typing that...not once in my life time, have any of us ever used that term. We were brothers & sisters, I just happen to have a different father than the rest of them, which only meant that..I was the baby.
The oldest of us was my sister, Tooter. I think I was almost 10 years old before I found out her real name was Benita. She had her first child only months after I was born...and I'm pretty sure there is still a picture out there somewhere of her & my mother modeling there big bellies. Tooter was a strong, hard working woman that was quick to tell you what was on her mind. She had assumed the responsibility of keeping the family close together after my Mom passed away. This had to prove difficult, since all of us had moved from home when Momma died...but trust me, when Tooter called informing you of Christmas dinner...she didn't ask if you could make it, she told you what time you better be there. She continued to host the Christmas & Thanksgiving dinners, the 4th of July cookouts, and all the other required family get-togethers until she passed away from brain cancer. Things kinda fell apart after her death. All of us tried to keep up the traditions, only to fail miserably. The dinners & cookouts gradually changed into funeral home potlucks...and pledges. Let me explain that last sentence: We all loose contact with each other; Someone dies; We meet at the funeral home; We promise to see each other more; We don't. Hell, we even pledged not to break the pledge, not so long ago at our brother's funeral..and I'm pretty sure that didn't last a month. Anyway, for whatever reasons, life consumes us and we forget to call and then the next thing we know...another one of us is gone, and all we are left with is guilt & broken promises. This is exactly what I have felt the last two days....as well as re-living our memories together.
Our family has been flooded with condolences, the "I'm Sorry's", prayers, and stories including Ricky. I have heard a hundred times how kind he was and how loving of father he was...and he was. He used to crack me up driving his two daughters and all their friends around in the mini-van...being tortured by pre-teen girl talk & pop music. He never complained though, they just voiced their demands and he would oblige. "Good ole Rick"...that's what we would call him upon seeing him chauffeuring them around town. Some people might even say he was a push-over for letting those kids run him around like that, but those people would be wrong...very wrong.
He lived a very modest life, didn't have much, and worked way too hard for way too little. From the outside looking in, it would seem he wasn't that fortunate. He lived his life by this design: Work hard, Posses little & be a Father 24/7. Didn't matter how tired he was, or what he had planned...his children's plans came first. He never really had any personal time or possessions...He would wear holes in his jeans and his shoes without soles...and get this, he NEVER complained. It was exactly what he wanted, What was important to him was being a good parent...a parent that was always there when needed. He didn't want rest when he was tired...he wanted his children to know that they were worth driving across town after a long day's work and little sleep. I know why...
He didn't have that growing up.
He was abandoned by his Mother when he was a child. She took out walking to the store one day, and just didn't come back. Seven kids...no parents. Two of them were old enough to live on their own, the newborn was gave up for adoption, and the other four went into foster care. Two of those four were not old enough to remember...Ricky was one of the two that could remember. I'm sure he never forgot how it felt to be left behind that day. Unwanted, full of fear, wondering what he had done for her to up and leave them all alone...and why she didn't love him enough to stay and take care of them. Those same feelings made him the father that he was...devoted, loving, and always there when they needed or wanted him. All the material things didn't matter to him. His success was his children knowing that they were the most important creatures in his life...and successful he was.
One last thing....Tomorrow is Mother's Day, and I know what you just read had to paint a pretty horrible picture of our mother, but you must know that she loved each one of us dearly, and wanted nothing more than to be a good Momma...she was just not capable of doing that 100% of the time. It was no fault of her own...and my brothers & sisters made peace with that, as well as with her. So, please don't be quick to judge her.......because her story has yet to be told.