Happy Birthday Joey: R.I.P Gone but Not Forgotten

Today (June 22, 2009) my little brother Joey would have been 40. Too bad, he decided the world was not worth it when I was incarcerated. We were about as close as brothers could be. Whenever my ex threw me out (drugs, mostly) he was who gave me shelter. June 22nd, 1969 was when the wild man joined the human race. A deep and wild little kid, he could always make me laugh.

He joined the Army as a medic, went to jump school, and was sent to Korea for the Olympics. Like me, he was a little too fond of a buzz and a little too unhappy with himself. Unlike me, he never had any children. That is too bad. He was a wonderful uncle and maybe kids would have made life worth hanging on to. As it were, he did not and it was not.

Our dad also decided he did not want to deal with life any longer 24 some years ago. THAT still seems like yesterday. In what seems to be a heart-breaking tradition, Joey also felt life just was not worth it anymore. I try to understand where he was coming from, but I just cannot. Sometimes I do dwell on what his last moments were like. Were his feeling remorse, overwhelming anger, sadness, careless, even joyful? I suppose I will not know until I cross over, hopefully as an old man. The last time I ever spoke to him was a collect call from jail. “I love you and miss you” were the last words I ever said to him. His last words to me? “I love you and miss you, too brother.” Ironically, he was at Ray’s house for the call. Ray is the kind, and gentle giant (in every way) of a friend who found his body.

While behind bars, I read a lot of Bible study books that the chaplain’s would lend me. Although I am Jewish, it was not unusual for the Protestant chaplain to lend me books and come talk to me. Heck, even the Muslim Imam had lent me books there. That is why I thought nothing of it when Chaplain Dallas came up to see me. When he said we needed to talk alone, I panicked. The only time guilt would overwhelms me is remembering whenever I thought ‘Oh Lord, please not my babies!’ and then Dallas asked me ‘Thom, do you have a brother named Joe?’relief washed over me. My children and ex-wife were all right. Then guilt and sadness almost doubled me over.

Dallas had spoke to my ex I guess because he said, “Your friend Ray was who found him.” We chatted a little. It was jail policy that when you lose an immediate family member you go to the mental health unit (MHU). I was comfortable were I was at and liked the guys I was with, mostly. Correctional Officers  Gordon M. and Dooders stepped up to the plate for me. One was a curmudgeonly old white guy and the other a GIANT younger black dude. They looked the major in the eye and took responsibility for me so I got to stay on my pod. I have always been grateful for that. Anyone who has done time at the county knows what a pain it is changing pods, especially when yo are leaving the one where you are a worker.

It is fitting that Ray found him. He was as much Joe’s brother as I was. He is also the mentally healthiest person I can think of. Of all of Joey and my friends, Ray could handle it best. My life has pretty much been no picnic since getting out. Temporary work is the best I can land and homelessness has popped up a couple times. The closing statements may read a little cheesy but they are still true. I do my best to stay clean for him. My children are a huge part of me sticking it out in a world that does not need me. Joey’s memory is the other part. I never had a chance to say goodbye but our last words to each other are as true now as the day we said them.

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2 Responses to “Happy Birthday Joey: R.I.P Gone but Not Forgotten”

  1. Sounds like someone who was dedicated to your happiness. It’s so hard to find people who will treat you and regard you positively without conditions, ever. It seems like Joey was that type of person. He loves and misses you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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