I come from a large family even though I only have one sister. My grandparents had 8 kids, three girls and 5 boys. My dad grew up during the depression. He has told us stories of growing up and their family was close and pulled together. My grandfather bought a pony and would take it around the neighborhood taking pics of kids on it on the weekends.
They went on to give them 31 grandkids. We were just as close growing up also. I remember spending lots of time with my cousins. Spending the night at each others houses too. I was the 8th oldest out of the bunch. My cousin Julie was my best friend growing up since we were only a few weeks apart in age. Her oldest brother, Rich, has always been my hero. Julie and I were playing at the top of the stairs at my grandmothers house with her new puppy. Needless to say, I tripped over it's leash and took a header down the stairs. Rich was the one who carried me into the house all bloody. Eddie and his brother Bill heralded our arrival with "we didn't do anything grandma!"
Eddie was always there. The oldest of the grandkids. Our leader. I always thought he was so much older than me, but it was only by 6 years. It was always fun to be around him when I was younger. He was honest and said what was on his mind. He was strong and yet gentle. He joined the Marines after high school and loved it.
While he was in the Marines he had a breakdown. It ended up that he was discharged from the Marine Corps that he loved so much. He was diagnosed as being schizophrenic. Here was a wonderful person, a brother, a son, a cousin, a grandson trapped in a world that wasn't his. His mind stole so much from him, but worst of all it stole his future. It also weakened his body. The medications designed to help him weakened him. His heart, which was always strong, gave out. The body trapped by his mind could not take no more. He was 54 and now 6 years does not seem like such a big difference.
I still mourn for the life that was lost. The life that should of loved and been loved. The life that should of influenced the world through children of his own. He deserved so much and received so little. He was the first of the grandchildren to bring joy and tears. It will be a sad reminder of how the diseases of the mind can rob a life.
It is also a lesson on how strong a family is. It was comforting to be surrounded by family during this sad time. Even though the structure has fallen apart since my grandmother died, it was comforting to have cousins supporting cousins. The holidays may be overshadowed by his passing, but the spirit is alive with the support of family.
I have and always will love you Eddie.