OFF MY CHEST: I’ve learnt to stay still amidst the storm in my family

Wednesday November 29 2017

I’m the last born among two brothers yet I

I’m the last born among two brothers yet I always feel like a first-born because of the weight of responsibilities I have to shoulder. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

By WANJIRU THUMBI

How much more can you do for your family or rather, what's left for me to do?

I don't know how to make this short, will just write all as it comes and get it off my chest.

I’m the last born among two brothers yet I always feel like a first-born because of the weight of responsibilities I have to shoulder.

One of my brothers is autistic and very lovable and then there is the other one.

Life took a different turn when my mum passed on while I was in Form One.

I felt deeply saddened by the loss but somehow I made it through high school comfortably with the support of my dear dad, stepmother and extended relatives.

DROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE

Meanwhile my brother enrolled for Bachelor of Commerce degree which he dropped out due to drugs and partly maybe because he wanted to take on a baking and pastry course (I’m not sure whether this was the source of all problems as he is passionate about this).

On finishing high school, my stepmother left as she had issues with my brother who issued death threats to her in addition to drug abuse thus causing a strain in the relationships at home.

It was chaotic. Even though he had been taken to many rehabilitation centres, he always escaped before completing the programme.

DAD AND HIS DRINKING

My dad started drinking more when she left. He had been drinking moderately when we were growing up but this time he was unable to control his intake.

My relatives took dad to a rehab at about the same time that I joined campus.

It was during this time that my brother sold things at home- all electronics and anything of value instead-of taking care of our home.

He had been given a chance to go back to school where instead he would still go to drug dens.

Dad left rehab an unchanged man and still kept drinking. He fought with my brother over and eventually reported him to the police for selling household goods. My brother spent almost a year in prison.

Somehow, there was forgiveness and charges were dropped. My other brother went to stay with my grandparents.

Back from prison, the cycle started again, my brother became violent, chaos at home, windows all broken, even the electricity bill skyrocketed and was eventually disconnected, and dad got into more drinking then rehab.

Dad being a teacher had to take an early retirement since he couldn't even go to work.

By God's grace I finished campus, somehow my fees got paid by dad and HELB but in terms of pocket money.

I don't even know how I made it through as my dad was always absent ?but my relatives supported me a great deal.

One of our family ?friends offered to stay with my brother and help him establish himself, get him a place to work in a bakery or even start his own business, he did this for a while then he went back home to just stay there.

I got an internship immediately after finishing campus but somehow couldn't keep at it as too much was going on at home and I was constantly being called to attend to issues.

We asked for mass at home to just ask for God's blessings. Dad received his retirement pension.

Things got worse and we had to shift to a new town to try and see whether dad would stop drinking but no change happened. When dad was out drinking my brother would sell even foodstuff to get money go drink.

Then one day dad fell ill and he had to have someone next to him at the hospital .I had to quit my internship and go be with him.

COUSINS LIVED NEAR THE HOSPITAL

Luckily my cousins lived near the hospital so we would alternate spending nights at the hospital.

He was released after three weeks. Went to one of my Aunt's to do home care for him for a month, he recovered and stopped drinking .

This was just one of my best moments. My brothers were at my grandmother’s place.

So dad and me moved back to our home, we found it a house but with renovations, putting back the windows, paying electricity bill, buying back electronics, gardening and even we got some livestock .

All those can't make a house a home but they contributed to the change, the peace that was in that place made it beautiful, dad no longer drinking. He became responsible and even went back to church.

My brothers joined us after a two months. Sadly things then changed, my dad relapsed, and the cycle began again. He was taken to a rehab by my relatives.

Then I also pushed and my brother went back to school, staying in a hostel, he has some interest in investments so he took up CIFA before he could take his exams he sold all he had even his roommates’ laptop and came home drunk.

Chaos at home. Dad back from rehab, my brother no change and selling household stuff, he was again reported and stayed in remand for almost seven months.

ALWAYS LOVED THE CHURCH

My other brother always loved the church, he even goes for morning masses. I had attended an event on autism awareness and there I found a centre that could offer accommodation and training for elder people.

We went there with him and they actually offered him a job instead. I shared the news with my dad and relatives and they liked the idea.

So on the reporting day we were to go with my dad but he left home, by midday he had not come back and since time wasn't on our side I just took my brother there.

My relatives who have visited him like the place and he seems comfortable and he is actually learning a lot, he is more responsible now.

This is one of the biggest miracles for me, he is away from the chaos at home.

Meanwhile I used to visit my brother in remand and he always asked me to tell dad to forgive him, he seemed sorry.

I pleaded with him and he dropped the charges.

Unfortunately, on getting back home there was no change, since there is nothing to sell, he always asked for money, and wanted to be taken back to school to pursue catering . I’ve taken my dad for retreats hoping he will change but nothing happens.

GIVEN THEIR BEST

It is a situation where everyone has given their best, my relatives have been of help they have done all they could dad has been taken to over four rehabs but no change, my brother was given chances to go back to school but no change even after rehabs.

Now my dad and brother are at home together, funny enough they are alumni of the same high school, Thika High. It is chaotic. They fight every day.

I’m in the city trying to build my business. It is a start-up but I’m keeping at it.

All that is left for me is to pray. I don't believe that my brother is a case of people in their 30swho refuse to get out of their parents homes, I don't believe that my dad will drink forever.

I believe in God , he says he will save our household (Acts 16:31). He ?gives people second chances, he makes everything new(Revelations 21:5).

He has a reason for all that happens, all happens for the good of all who love him(Romans 8:28)

I don't know what to do next to help them, I’m clueless but I believe God works in mysterious ways (Isiah 55:8)

My dad will one day go back to being a catechist serving the Lord, he was very good at it while I was young, I believe my brother will also go back to church and be a successful guy. Despite all that has happened, I love them so much.

I thank my parents for bringing me up in the church, I have come to love it.

Going in front of the Eucharistic Lord in the adoration chapel fills me with immense peace, saying the divine mercy rosary asking God to have mercy on our family gives me hope and praying the holy rosary reminds me I have a mother, mother Mary always interceding for our family.

All will be well . It is not as hopeless a situation as it may seem.

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