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Friday, 29 May 2015

Happy Birthday Flag Boy

By Dani Ferguson Phillips of The Cataract Club

I remember the day daddy told you that you were so special the flag was waving in your honor. It was your sixth birthday and I was almost five years old. Your birthday was the first big event of the summer and you would pave the way for my birthday in July. For only four-and-a-half weeks you were boastfully “two” years older than me.

When you heard about flag day you were so excited and wanted to drive up and down main street just so you could see the flags that lined the street. You would yell out the window to passersby letting them know that it was your birthday.

How thrilled you were when people responded with a happy birthday shout back to you.

I wish life had always been so carefree for you, dear brother. You seemed to be the kid in the family who inherited all the broken genes. Asthma was your nemesis almost as soon as you could walk. I remember hearing your labored breathing from my bedroom next to yours.

Holidays, with their excitement and festivity, would almost always induce an asthma attack that sent you to the hospital. I remember the first time I visited you in the hospital when we were little and saw you lying under the oxygen tent. I was almost jealous because I wanted a fort of my own.

You were a mystery to me when we were kids. You never quite accepted your abdication from the throne as the youngest child. Therefore you never quite accepted me.

I'll never forget when you told me that you really didn't know I existed until the day I became a mother myself. Twenty-one years is a long time to be invisible.

I have watched you struggle to live in a world that was often confusing and frightening. Your diagnosis of schizophrenia was not only a shock to the family but certainly to you. Although it gave clarity to your often "odd behavior," it must have been horrifying to a 19-year-old young man. It spelled out a future that was uncertain and foreign to us all.

But here you are almost 67 years old. The flags will soon be flying high for you dear brother. I have learned so much from you and you have inspired me to never take anything for granted.

Most of life's obstacles have been reduced to minor inconveniences compared to your constant struggle to differentiate between delusion and reality. But no matter how you walk that fine line between sanity and insanity, you always speak from a place of sincerity and honesty that the rest of can only strive to reach.

When our dear auntie was complaining about her own precious granddaughter and threatening to never speak to her again because of some questionable behavior on her part, you simply responded, "Well, I just love her!"

You, dear brother, silenced the entire room. You showed us all that judgment needs to be for the one who will judge us all and that our job here on earth is to merely love and accept one another.

And so - dear brother. Thank you for being a part of my life! Thank you for allowing me a glimpse of the world as you see it. You have made me a better person.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a lovely Birthday message for your brother, Dani. Thanks for sharing this with us. You reminded me that I need to call my brother whom I haven't seen in over 4 years and who lives only 3 hours away..Gotta take a trip to Gig Harbor soon!

Elle (PlantCrone) in Beavertob, OR

Wonderful writing Dani, and so personal to me. My older two children have abandoned their younger bipolar brother, and so has his father. And he is so sweet, and smart, and remarkable. And they threw me out too, as I support him.

Today many just cut people out, so simple rather than dealing with real life and truth. Is that a new phenom
for this generation?

You are truly beautiful.

I am struck by the sincerity of your brother's view. Funny how he put everything in perspective. Those with the most broken lives sometimes possess the most beautiful hearts.

I just imply cried.

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