Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brother Gino

My brother was an amazing guy, out of all five siblings he was the one who looked most like me with the same dark hair, eyes and coloring. We took after our father and the Italian side of the family while our brothers and sisters looked more like my German mothers side. My brother Gino battled drug addiction since he was a teenager. He was like Jeckyl and Hyde, you would not want to be around him when he was using. He told me a story a few years ago about when he was hitchhiking from Ohio back down to Florida where we grew up and how cold it got during the night along the interstate. It was during the winter and he was having a hard time getting a ride and at one point he climbed up under an overpass to try to get a little sleep. However, it proved too cold to sleep and he proceeded to take out an article of clothing from his duffel bag and set it on fire in order to warm himself a bit....he ended up burning all of his belongings during the night because he feared he would surely freeze to death. Like me, my brother had the spirit of adventure, which turned out to be a blessing and a curse. We are restless souls, always searching for something but not quite sure what it is. I loved my brother, besides my sister Kathie he was my favorite sibling and such a great storyteller....his memory was incredible, never missing a detail.  Shortly before Gino died of heroin withdrawal he was having dinner at my house and we were talking about addictions and whether it was a disease or brought on my human weakness....and this is what he said to me: Don't let anyone tell you that drug addiction is a disease, it's not like cancer or some God forsaken malady that you have no control over. Every time I relapsed I made a conscious decision to do so, no one held a gun to my head and made me stick a needle in my arm. It may be physiological, psychological, sociological....I don't know...but it's not a disease..." I have thought long and hard about his statement and I have to admit that I do not know why people become addicts. All I do know however is that I miss my brother who passed away 2 yrs. ago alone in a hospital far removed from his family...thank God he had a priest by his side until the end of his life. Now whenever I travel I always look up under the overpasses fearing that I might see a homeless person crouched up in the dark recesses rubbing his hands trying to keep warm... and inevitably I find one and how it saddens me.....because I am seeing my beautiful brother and the waste of a perfect human life and for what? Why? Why do we not love ourselves and why do we suffer so....?

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