As many of you know, within the first year of a loved one passing, certain holidays, anniversaries, or special days can trigger more additional grief or sorrow.
September 16th is that day for me.
Today would have been my dad’s 75th birthday. My brother, Troy, who shares the same birthday, would have been 43 years old.
Having passed away less than five weeks apart and less than ten months ago, this is the first birthday that I won’t be calling Dad to wish him a “Happy Birthday!”
Remembering the Good Times
I’ve continually prayed over this post and how I would address it. Honestly, my first draft was full of anger and grief. We are still uncovering evidence of what took place before my dad’s death. My brother lived with my dad, and the one thing about living with an addict is that they leave evidence of notes, texts, and drug paraphernalia in all areas of a house. I was able to piece together the full story of what occurred without ever hearing a first-person account.
After writing the first draft, I realized that it’s not the right time for it. The story of what happened needs to come out, and it will, but now is not the time.
So, instead, I will focus on the good times before the downfall.
Growing up, I remember my dad being a hard worker. Due to our opposite work and school schedules, I often wouldn’t see my dad until the weekends. And yes, we lived in the same home. Dad loved to garden and took pride in his gardening. From sweet corn to potatoes (he once had his photo in the local newspaper because he grew larger than life potatoes!) to tomatoes, he raised it all. He would produce the hottest peppers on earth and not flinch when he ate them. I quickly learned that when my dad said, “Here Miss, try this, it’s not hot at all,” not to try it because I would be feeling the side effects for a week!
My dad was an amazing grandpa to Grant and Connor. Dad always had a little orneriness to him, and I can see that in both of my boys, especially Connor. When all three were together, laughter would ensue. From playing basketball with Connor – and unsuccessfully completing a layup, to telling Grant stories of life on the farm and in the army, the three of them formed a strong bond.
Almost five years younger than me, my brother Troy irritated me to no end at times. Legend has it that when my mom went to the hospital to deliver Troy, I told her it better be a brother, or don’t bother coming home. From the moment he came home from the hospital, he was the little brother that I looked after.
As Troy got older, things were a little rough for him. I remember my dad saying, “Troy gets along best with children and the elderly.” Meaning he was having trouble getting along with his peers, and he dropped out of high school. Throughout the years, he got married and helped raise his step-daughter. He was “Uncle Toe” to my boys. He was one of the first visitors to see Grant after he was born. My stepson, Nick, would spend the weekends at his house. He was an amazing uncle!
I’m not sure at what point drugs consumed his life. What started out as a habit of smoking pot in high school turned in to a full-blown heroin and cocaine addiction in his adult years. His use ramped up after our mom passed away. The need for a fix became a full-time job, without a thought of who he was hurting in the process.
Troy stole from major retail stores and was arrested for drug possession numerous times. He had my dad ask for money from just about every family member and neighbor with the excuse that he had a medical condition, and his doctor would only take cash. His arrest sheet can cover the length of my house.
Everyone could see what was happening in Troy’s life except for one person, our dad. Troy and Dad were very close, and no matter how many times another family member or I would try and talk to my dad about Troy, no one could get through to him. Either in denial or refusing to believe what was happening right in front of him, Dad believed every lie that Troy told him.
I truly believe that deep inside, Troy yearned for a clean life. He once told me that while he was in prison, he accepted Christ as his Savior. I pray that he was telling me the truth.
The last time that I spoke to my brother was on Thanksgiving 2018. Having just got out of prison again; he promised me that he would be living a life free of drugs. He was going to get a job and help dad out. With every fiber of my being, I desperately wanted to believe him. My mind said that he was going to make good on his promise; however, my heart told me he would be going back to his old ways.
My heart was right.
Finally at Peace
While it hurts that I cannot physically talk with Dad and Troy today, I find comfort in knowing that they are finally at peace. No more pain. No more drugs. No more financial stress. Just Peace.
Happy 75th and 43rd birthday, Dad and Troy. I love you, and I miss you!
Resources to Download
Verses to Pray: 31 Days of Prayer for Students, Parents, Teachers, and Staff at Our Schools
Now more than ever, our schools need our prayers! I’ve created this guide for you to pray daily for our students, parent, teachers, and staff. Please click here to download this free resource.
My Identity: A Five-Day Devotional to Remind You of Who You Are in Christ.
In the rush of life, we often forget our true identities, our identity in Christ. In this devotional, you will be reminded that you are forgiven, free, loved, redeemed, and seated. Click here to download.