In the last 3 years that I’ve been writing these stories (blogs) – I’ve never written anything about my younger brother Ricky (Eric), who has been battling demons for most of his adult life. Despite a University education, a promising career, a wife and 2 awesome children – he’s lost almost everything. He has had the support of family and friends during his many attempts at sobriety but nothing has worked. We all love him and will never give up on him.
I was recently in Toronto visiting my family and friends and wanted to share a few moments with each of them. But when I finally got a hold of Ricky, he told me that he couldn’t get together – but I persisted and got him to agree to meet me on Labour Day.
The last time that he and I spent time together was several years ago. He was living in a Salvation Army shelter in Cabbagetown (part of downtown Toronto). We spent that day with his children – Jennifer and David and we all had a lot of fun. But after we dropped them off at their home, my brother broke down and cried. I couldn’t say much to comfort him because I knew that the moment I dropped him off at the Sally Ann shelter, he would be heading to the nearest liquor store to buy a bottle with the money that I gave him. It was one of the saddest days of my life – but I’d bet money that most of his days have been much sadder – and lonely.
I wrote about his daughter Jennifer in a recent blog. Both she and her brother David have done well and Ricky is very proud of both of them. Their mom Lynn and her husband Michael have provided a loving and supportive environment and try to include Ricky in family gatherings. Jennifer recently graduated from University and David has just finished his first year.
Anyway, back to my visit with Ricky.
We laughed and cried during our day together but the visit was far too short. But at least I got him to agree to come to our sister Linda’s place later that week for a family photo.
We took a few pictures and a couple of video clips during the day. The first and second videos were at a restaurant in Oakville. You can see the perspiration pouring down his face and neck – but I said nothing – I wanted our time together to be memorable for both of us. And it was.
And the last video was taken by one of his room mates just before I left to go back to my hotel in Mississauga.
And although we promised to keep in touch – I still cried all of the way back to my hotel.
Ricky and I have spoken on the phone several times since I returned to Vancouver and we are both cheering for our Toronto Blue Jays. Hopefully, next year Ricky, Freddy, Randy and I can catch a game together – just like old times…
Dedicated to Ricky, Jennifer and David St. Andrews