Except Jesus forgot one very important detail. He forgot to let Uncle Ed live.
The downward spiral of Uncle Ed’s mental and physical health began without many noticing, I’m afraid. To pinpoint an exact date or time frame would resemble an attempt to duct tape water to the wall.
My Uncle Ed is my mom’s baby brother. She was the oldest of four and at the young age of eleven, had to become an adult and raise herself along with her siblings.
I could surmise the downward spiral never actually started anywhere, it began before his birth with genetics. His uncle committed suicide, also.
I could presume that environment piled on genetics led to his demise. His mother was constantly saying, “I just wish I was dead.” They’d come home from school to find her down on hands and knees, head in the oven, trying to kill herself. His father was sleeping with his uncle’s wife. This is what led his uncle to suicide and the catalyst for his sister, my grandma, my mom’s mom, to stick her head in the oven and take up Vodka. Kind of a family tradition, huh?
He was around three when his uncle died, when his dad married his aunt while still married to his mother, when his mom and dad finally divorced. DNA tests later in life, proved that the kids Uncle Ed thought were his cousins were actually his half-siblings.
Hatred and bitterness were just a way of life in this family. Dysfunction exists to a certain degree in every family, seems like we got a bigger dose of it than most.
I could assume, which I did for many years, that the role of the Catholic church played a part in Uncle Ed’s ability to cope in a healthy manner. Maybe it was just my grandmother, the Priests, and the nuns twisting the Catholic doctrine, but really, when you’re told enough times as a child that you’re going to hell–you eventually believe it and then it doesn’t really matter what you do because you don’t have someone to save you, you don’t have a loving God. What you have is a God with a big whip waiting to beat you every time you fuck up and a dead savior hanging bloody from a cross.
Maybe it was the fact that Uncle Ed got into an accident on 80/94, captured by Chicago news stations on film that some of us believe was actually his first suicide attempt. The footage looked like he ran his car right into a semi on purpose. He survived however, life really headed south at this point. He was in and out of hospitals and had a doctor who thought narcotic pain killers were Tic-tacs and doled them out without guilt. Uncle Ed was definitely addicted to them. He had several overdose attempts. I think it got to be something like 6 attempts in 8 months.
In late April of 2005, I got a call around 7:30 in the morning. I hate 7:30 in the morning, it seems to be when all of our family emergencies occur. Anyway, my mom called me and told me they found Uncle Ed passed out in his bedroom, unconscious. They called 911 and he was at the ER, unresponsive. His organs were shutting down and the doctor was suggesting that the family gather because he wasn’t going to make it.
I live an hour from the hospital he was at. I woke Phil up, we prayed and I got in the car with my Bible.