About My Brother
Thank you to everyone who donated toward Mark’s expenses, sent condolences and cards. I think about my brother every day, and where people like him are often forgotten in society, I know he’ll be remembered by many more people than he otherwise would have been, I will never forget him.
Below is the story I published about him in August.
I lost someone very special to me last week. My brother Mark died unexpectedly on July 28. I had written about him last winter when I moved him from one apartment to another in “Coming Back Home”.
The new apartment was not comfortable but he was more stable than he had been in a long time and seemed to be adjusting well. I thought he might be slowing down a bit too, just moving slower, seeming to have more cognitive difficulties, and just quieter, his deep voice was softer than usual, and wondered if it was time to find a communal living situation so he would have some assistance and supervision.
Mark had suffered a traumatic brain injury in a fall in 2000 and was left with a disabling seizure disorder and cognitive issues. Medication kept the seizures mostly under control but he still had seizures now and then and it appears that’s what happened while he was alone in his apartment some time in the morning. I knew from doctors’ advice and friends who had siblings, spouses and even parents who had suffered traumatic brain injuries that a fatal seizure was likely at some point in Mark’s life and that it could happen while he was alone, and to prepare myself I imagined scenarios where that would happen. But preparing myself in some ways for Mark’s death was not a new thing for me. Mark had been an alcoholic most of his adult life, regularly losing his job to alcohol, was homeless and destitute, and part of me has been waiting for a call for all these years to tell me he’d been found somewhere. When I got the call in 2000 but he surprisingly lived through that experience, I reminded him he’d had a major reprieve and there was some reason he was still alive. We laughed but he took that seriously for the next ten years as I managed him through every occupational and social rehab and training program I could find for him and helped him find jobs he could manage, but eventually the jobs ended when businesses closed and they were scarce for people with his limitations, and he went back to drinking, sometimes very seriously.
His demons are no longer chasing him. His habits kept me running after him for much of his life but underneath the alcohol there wasn’t a mean bone in his body, and there wasn’t a thing I wouldn’t have done for him. Though he was alone at the moment he died, he was surrounded by neighbors and friends who cared and just thought he was a really nice guy, which he was. Even the funeral director said he recognized Mark as the person who walked past his building each morning while he watered his flower boxes, and Mark would say hello as he went past to buy a Pepsi or some ice and walked back a little later. Many people knew him that way.
Mark would have been 60 years old this December and we were planning a birthday party because we laughed and were surprised he lived that long after all he’d done. He will be cremated with no viewing or service, but we will still have a get-together to honor him some time in the next month.
He loved my cats through the years and they loved him, like the day in 1988 that he took a nap on my couch and rescued kittens settled all over him, and one little dilute tortie girl decided he belonged to her and he and his girlfriend took Nikka home. My cats adored him and would play with him all day, and he with them. He was a kind and gentle person, and they knew it.
If his life had been more stable he would have been a great cat foster. Cookie knew a good person when she met one, as Mark gently reached around to pet her.
It will take a long time for the fact that he’s not here anymore to become reality for me. He called on Tuesday to see if I could give him some money for ice. I said yes but I was in the middle of working with a customer and asked him to call later, which was typical. He didn’t call, which I didn’t really expect because he often would visit a neighbor with air conditioning, sit outside or visit one of the stores that had air conditioning. That was the last time I spoke with him.
Despite all his issues and large amounts of time apart through the years due to his alcoholism, I felt closest to my brother, probably because we are closest in age and grew up together, but I just miss him, and I always will.
If you are on Facebook you may have already read my post, but in addition to losing him, other events and the circumstances on those days created a strange reality for me, and I will be a long time both getting used to my brother being gone, and thinking about the context in which I lost him. You can read the second half of this article for that story.
Many of you readers have often been generous in helping with the costs associated with rescues, and when I set up my new website I included my favorite reward program as one of the pages, titled “Donate For a Discount”. I will give you a gift certificate toward shopping on my website in thanks—for every $25.00 you donate in goods or cash I’ll give you a gift certificate for $5.00 off a minimum $25.00 purchase.
- $5.00 off $25,00 when you donate $25.00
- $10.00 off $50.00 when you donate $50.00
- $15.00 off $75.00 when you donate $75.00
- $20.00 off $100 when you donate $100.00
- and so on
Because this will come to me I will know already that you donated.
- I will send you your gift certificate (discount code).
How to use it:
- Each certificate is good for $5.00 off your order of $25.00 or more.
- Use for individual shopping trips or all at once.
- Use for your own shopping, give as a gift, or keep for later.
- Certificates are good until December 31, 2016, and I can renew them if you haven’t used them by the end of the year.
How to use your gift certificate
Your gift certificate will have a code that will be active for use for at least until the end of the current calendar year. This code is entered at checkout for your discount. Your certificate is transferable too. Feel free to use your certificate for your own shopping, or to give as a gift. For my own accounting purposes, I’d like to keep all the transactions within a shorter period of time.
And thank you for helping us make life better for homeless cats, and provide affordable services to pet owners and education to people to reduce the number of homeless cats to be rescued.