He Ain't Heavy...

Real Estate Agent with Re/Max Affiliates

I'm happy to be here today to address you, the High School class of 1966.  I graduated 7 years behind you, and at the age of 11, I was definitely present on YOUR graduation day.  Your class valedictorian was my brother, David.   I'm not here to embarrass you, but instead to add to the understanding you already have, and to thank you for your past kindnesses.   In the film, "A Beautiful Mind", nobel prize winner John Nash suffers from the effects of paranoid schizophrenia.  That's the same disease David has.  In high school, he was one of the brightest among you.  The Ron Howard movie shows in graphic detail, a family dealing with this tragic debilitating disease, complete with the wrenching moment at which physical restraint is required for a mental patient, which breaks both the free will and the spirit of the individual, and the grieving which follows.   As the oldest child, my brother was my father's brightest hope.  After college graduation, he was attending graduate school, when one day, the chemical imbalance in his brain went off like the fuse on a time bomb.  The person we knew was gone, and only a delusional shell of the young man remained.  This began a 7 year period of grieving, denial, and the expensive but futile search for a solution or cure.  Eventually, our family came to terms with our loss.  As many of you know, David continues life at the former County Home near Freeport.  Just like Russell Crowe's character, my brother has aged & mellowed, much like many of you.  He remains a kind and gentle soul.  David may not be a great speaker, in fact he was always kind of shy.  He never got to realize his potential or make a significant contribution, and he never got to fall in love.  But my brother got to do something even more significant:  he got to inspire.  He inspired me.  Once I saw his potential cut short when I was 15, I saw my life flash in front of my eyes.  It felt like I was living in a war zone.  My only choice was to achieve, or I wouldn't survive.  So the gift David gave me, was the adversity we experienced together.  This adversity went beyond the breaking point.  It was disguised as utter family failure.  I now know that my long climb, and all of my success, began with the inspiration that started with him.  So tonight, I speak for my brother, when I say, "It's great to be alive.  I love you guys."  Class of '66, here's MY most vivid memory about your graduation.  Rehearsal was the night before the ceremony.  When it was over, David took me for a walk.  Imagine being me, that 11 year-old boy, beaming with pride, as my big brother held on to my little hand, and together, we walked past the lockers, through the halls of my high school.  Thank you, and God Bless You.

Comments (2)

Michele Connors
The Overton Group, LLC Pitt & Carteret County - Greenville, NC
Your Eastern North Carolina Realtor
wow, that is from the heart. It seems to me your brother may be unable to have a lifes ' journey such as yours but I also think hes with you throughout yours-  every minute- in your heart.  What a wonderrful way to bring him to the reunion and also bring awareness to mental health.
Sep 23, 2007 11:19 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

We invite you back to ActiveRain in 2017.

  Much has changed since your last blog post.

  Best to you!

Jul 10, 2017 07:36 PM