My brother would be 47 years old today. He’s been gone for 14 years now. Hard to believe how fast that time has gone by. I remember the funeral, if you could call it that, like it was yesterday. My ex kept my son and my father, grandmother (mother’s mother) and I drove to Memphis to bury him with my mother. My grandmother and grandfather had bought four plots decades before. They were meant for the two of them and their daughter who died in 1980 and her husband, my father. But my father remarried years ago, so it was a perfect fit for his plot to go to my brother. I’m not sure why I didn’t fit in the space, but it made sense and still does.

I remember my father looking at his only son lying in his coffin, holding his hand and shaking his head with incomprehension. My brother died in jail and was sent to the funeral home with his belongings, which all fit into one trash bag. Granted, it was the larger lawn and garden size, but it was still one trash bag. The only words my father said were, “How can someone be in their thirties and die with one hefty bag of stuff?”

What he was really saying - what really stumped him - was that his son had died with so little when he had been given so much. Money, that is. My father had spent thousands upon thousands of dollars trying to get my brother on the right track in life, and in his mind, Pat was the only thing blemishing his appearance as a complete success.

While I didn’t know my brother as well as I should have because he didn’t live at home full-time after the age of 13 in an effort to make him be a better person, I really just felt sadness. I still do. Sadness about a boy who just wanted to be good, but couldn’t. He wanted to make people happy, make people proud of him, make people love him, make people be who they could never be. He used to draw beautifully. He created things for everybody. He sent our grandmother homemade cards, because she asked him to draw for her. It was the closest he got to someone being genuinely proud of him. He was forgiving, trusting, and a considerate, sensitive soul.

And he should get credit for trying so hard to be a good boy. Unfortunately, the only people left who knew him are me and my father, whose viewpoints on everything about the past cancel each other out.