My sister called me an hour or so ago to tell me that our youngest brother Charlie died this morning of a massive heart attack. He was 42. →
I can't quite take it in at the moment, can't believe that I'm not going to go home at Christmas and see him come walking in with a Tim Horton's gift basket for my mother as he always does, and give him his Christmas present, which is wrapped and ready in my closet at my parents' place, and which was $25 worth of socks since I've heard him say several times he goes through socks like tissues.
I said so to my sister, and she said she felt the same way, that he'd drop in on his way back from his Christmas run delivering chickens. (He worked for a small, family-owned chicken packing plant.) I added, "Or he'd show up under police escort..." and we both managed to laugh. One year Charlie got into a car accident just outside of the little town where my parents live. He was fine, but his truck was totalled. (It was 100% the other guy's fault so he got a new truck.) The cop who arrived shortly after and wrote up the report gave him a ride to my parents' place. I've always wished there had been someone looking out the front window to see Charlie arriving for Christmas in a police cruiser. As it was, he told us he had, and he seemed remarkably calm and unrattled all day for a man who had been in a major car accident, and he and we all cracked jokes about it all that day. But then he was like that. He was a quiet guy, and very sweet-natured, and he almost always seemed contented with his life.
Dead of massive heart attack at 42. That's not supposed to happen, and so there is to be an autopsy. He had always been a very heavy drinker and smoker, and his job was so physically demanding — so much heavy lifting and driving under bad conditions and long, split shifts with only a few hours to sleep in between. He was never one to go to the doctor unless he "needed" to, which was never, as he was never ill. And then there was the matter of his teeth, which were in horrible shape and probably needed to come out. Maybe there was some infection that got into his blood stream.
Nothing's been decided yet about his funeral or burial. He was technically married, but he and his wife have been separated for what must be over five years now and he's been living with another woman, Joanne, and her three children for the past several years. I have never even met Joanne, though my parents have. The only thing that's been settled so far is that my parents will be making the decisions about the funeral, but that Joanne will of course be attending.
I can't take it in. I have three brothers — I had three brothers — and Charlie was my favourite.