Thursday, February 1, 2007


Harry was my dad's cousin. Harry's parents were alcoholics. Harry and all of his siblings showed signs of fetal alcohol syndrome, and Harry was particularly slow. My dad promised his Aunt Katherine (Harry's mom) on her death bed that he would look out for Harry.

The thing about Harry was that if you just had a conversation with him, you wouldn't think he was slow at all, but when it came to holding a job and paying bills, he was simply incapable of living on his own, so Harry moved back and forth between his sisters and my dad.

Harry was a big-shouldered burly man, built for construction work but not capable of doing anything unsupervised. He was missing an eye as a result of a childhood accident, so he wore dark sunglasses all the time (even indoors and at night).

My dad always treated Harry like an idiot, and taking my cues from Dad, I did as well. They were both alcoholics, and when they argued I took my dad's side even though I rarely had a clue what they were arguing about.

One morning when I was in the 3rd grade, I awoke at 5 am to dad kicking Harry out. I was happy that Harry was leaving. About half an hour later, Harry came back to the door with his tail between his legs and told my dad that he really had nowhere to go. My dad ordered him to go to his room like a child. Harry quietly asked my dad not to talk to him that way. My dad told him that if he wanted to stay, he better just shut-up and go to his room. Harry went to his room.

I felt terrible that my dad was so mean to Harry, and I went to my room and cried.

As a teenager, I told my dad and Harry that they were like Ren and Stimpy. Harry thought it was funny. Dad didn't.

If anything though, they were probably like George and Lenny from Of Mice and Men . George admitted to being mean to Lenny at times, but when it came down to it, George looked out for Lenny when no one else would. My dad looked out for Harry the best he could, and he didn't have to. He took care of Harry because it was the right thing to do.

Harry died a couple years ago from complications due to his alcoholism.

I miss him.

Tomorrow I'll tell you something uplifting.

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