Karl (louderback) wrote,

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And now I know

Dear LiveJournal Friends,

I've had an unsettling experience. It needs some background so bear with me.

Back in '75 my parents retired and built a small home in the country. Just a couple of rooms. It was a basement house with a roof on it... many people mistakenly thought it an A-frame house. That tells you a little about the size and design of the place. It was not much of a place ... basically a "summer cabin" sort of place to which an elderly couple could retire. Minimum maintenance was required and it was comfortably "plain".

My parents lived there about fifteen years. I never did, though I visited the house often. My brother and sister lived there in their teen years (they are a good bit younger than I) and it was the "family home" for a while. It was never "my" home.

My parents moved away from this place in their failing years to an apartment "in town". My brother took over the house and it was his thereafter. My sister and I have never been much interested in the place. It was always pretty much my brother's home after it ceased to be my parents'.

When my parents died, they left the house jointly to the three of us. My sister and I planned to simply sign over our interest in the house to my brother and be done with it, but never got around to doing that. This was more or less fortuitous.

This year my brother wound up going to prison. I won't go into the details nor express an opinion about his guilt or innocence. He is in a year-long drug rehab program and may be in for as long as seven years. When he is free, he cannot return to the property for at least a year as a condition of his sentence — a detailed explanation of why would be tedious — however, under a "public nuisance" law in Missouri. but the house falls under the classification of a "crack house" and this prohibits his return.

I visited my brother's house, my parents' retirement home, for the first time in years Monday. I have been on the property several times in the last decade, but have not been inside. I wanted to see what needed done to "winterize" the place. I had an eye to, perhaps, cleaning up the property, maybe even preparing the house for some sort of improvements. I tried to look over the place in detail.

I couldn't.

I thought the place was "abandoned". John (my brother) said his "friends" were taking care of the place. I had a low opinion of that, but basically had the attitude "It's his place — it's his problem."

The power and water is off. Someone has been entering through the window. My mother's old sofa, an oak affair with wooden arms and frame, has been dragged to the center of the floor and a "nest" of cushions and blankets built in it. Some large animal is sleeping there. I'll not dignify the sleeper calling them a person. The entire house is, literally, several inches deep in debris. Clothing, trash, and debris, cover the floor to the point where you cannot walk without treading on it. The refrigerator is full of rotted food. When the power went out, nobody threw the food out. A freezer in the utility room is half full of stale water that smells of rotted meat. The fireplace has bricks broken out. The paneling has holes. I won't discuss the bathrooms.

Burning the house would improve the value of the property. I doubt that even that would abate the stench.

I never thought of the place as my home. I never felt I was emotionally invested in the place. I guess I was wrong.

I've been weepy for days. I shook all day Monday. I just plain shook. I covered myself well, I think. My sister didn't seem concerned. She was out of town Tuesday, so I could spend the day crashing. I don't know why this has hit me so hard. I am at a loss.

I have some responsibility here. I am 1/3 owner of this property. If someone is injured, I have some liability issues. Should someone be injured on the property it could redound upon me.

I also feel some responsibility to my brother. He cannot return, reasonably to this property. He is prohibited from living there for a year after his release. While he is on parole, nearly anyone he knows (practically every one of his friends is a convicted felon) would violate his parole by visiting. It would be to my brother's advantage not to return to that place when he gets out. I wonder if he can be convinced of this? I don't think this is my job.

I don't know what obligations I have to my brother. I want to help him. I don't know what would be most help. We are not communicating right now. I am not kindly disposed after seeing the house. I really don't know what to do.

I lied. I guess I do know why this has hit me so hard.

My family is gone and now I know it. My father is dead. My mother is dead. My brother is in prison. My sister is widowed. I find myself blind, in failing health and subsisting on a grudgingly offered pension.

It's been so for a while but now I know it.


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