Saturday, December 04, 2004

My Family Part I: Tim

The title of this post might be a little misleading. As of now, this is my first and only installation of “My Family”. While I may have more to write in the future, there are no other stories currently in reserve.

I post about Tim primarily as a follow-up to the story about last Friday’s poker night. Overall, my post and that experience placed him in a relatively unfavorable light. Although I didn’t distort anything I said, I hope I didn’t come off as overly angry or petty. Yes, I was upset that night over the damage inflicted on my beloved bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And I felt he did renege on a deal that would have paid me an additional $5. I won’t rehash that night. Inquiring minds can look a few posts back and see the full account of the evening’s happenings.

Briefly, for anyone who doesn’t know me, I’ll sometimes refer to Tim as my stepbrother. Technically, he’s the son of my mother’s ex-boyfriend Gary. No legal marriage ever took place so there is no legal relationship between myself and any members of the Fultz family. Not that I don’t think of them as family, but he’s not my stepbrother. Enough with the technicalities.

Tim entered my life around my 5th Grade year in elementary school. That means I’ve known Tim for about ten years now. When I first met him, he was a rather belligerent kid. He was in his early teens and took great pleasure out of annoying me. I remember all the times he’d run in the house quickly just to sit in my preferred chair. For a year or two, he was a real son of a bitch to me. It was Tim’s personality to try and be as aggravating as any human being could be. Even though he is three years older than me, I always had him beat in maturity.

Of course, we had some good times. My earliest fond memories were of us playing “Mario Andretti Racing” and “Coach K Basketball” on the Sega Genesis system (or at least I think it was Sega, maybe Playstation I). I know it’s a little thing, but there were times when he was really good to me.

To understand who Tim is, one must look at his upbringing in life. Since I’ll probably end up making this a “friends only post”, I’ll share the tragic loss that he had as a child. His mother died in a car accident when he was just entering his teenage years. I’ll never forget something Gary told me long ago. Gary talked about having to notify Tim that his mother had been seriously injured and her chances of survival were nil. In the end, it was Gary who made the decision to pull the life support from his wife. Tim told Gary, “You know I love you Dad, but she was my favorite person in the world.” I think that sums up how most young boys feel about their mother.

I didn’t post that to elicit sympathy from Tim or to rationalize his failings in life. Many people have had terrible upbringings and found a way to succeed. It’s only to give background information and try to paint the picture of Tim’s life. I’ll refrain from psychoanalyzing, but the subject of his mother comes up a lot, especially when he’s been drinking.

Tim’s life wasn’t great leading up to his legal problems. He did very poorly in school and made life hell for teachers and students alike. One of Gary’s failings as a parent was allowing Tim to remain in school when he clearly was unwilling to commit to getting even passing grades.

When Tim was 16, he and his cronies broke into an abandoned house in Jupiter Farms. There’s no disputing the fact that he and his buddies were in the wrong. Unfortunately for Tim, he messed with the wrong guy. The victim of his aggression decided to seek justice and Tim received ten years probation along with one-year house arrest. I think that the sentence was overly harsh. To this day, his legal conviction is something that causes Gary great guilt. Confident that the system would go easy on Tim, Gary didn’t seek out the best legal advice. Without a solid legal foundation, he got a sentence that wasn’t commensurate with the crime committed.

This was a turning point in Tim’s life. He faced a decision as to whether he’d accept his fate and try harder, or simply rebel even worse and face unpleasant consequences. Tim took the latter road. Even though the terms of his probation forbade it, Tim decided that he’d keep on smoking marijuana. Each month he’d get tested, and if he failed it would be prison. That happened on one occasion. In another instance, he took off his ankle bracelet and left the neighborhood. The probation officer was none to pleased and sent him back to the pokey. All in all, Tim probably spent three years in jail or prison at various times in his teens. The moral of this story is that Tim refused to comply with authority even when doing so took away his freedom.

No story about Tim is complete without discussing his girlfriend Loren. She’s been with him for over four years now, beginning during the days he still frequented prison. This is a love story gone tragically wrong. I’m not lying when I say that the police have visited Heather Street six times in the past year on account of her theatrics. One time she was Baker Acted and taken to a psych ward for observation.

The event that stands out in my mind the most was the night of January 26, 2002. That was the infamous day when the much ballyhooed French windows came crashing in. For years, nobody believed that it actually happened. Tim and Loren began quarreling that night and it transpired for hours. I was sitting in my living room watching the Shane Mosley vs. Vernon Forrest boxing match, which Forrest won by shocking Unanimous Decision. Shortly after the fight, I heard this loud scream and a portable telephone came flying through the windows, nearly hitting me. Tim and Loren did their best to clean up the mess, but it wasn’t soon enough. Gary and my Mom were on their way home from a Toby Keith concert at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre. It wasn’t a pleasant scene when they walked in the door and saw Tim and Loren with a broom cleaning up glass.

I wish I could more vividly bring to life this story of a troubled family member. I think you kind of have to live it to understand it. The most recent years of Tim’s life have remained troubled, although free of legal entanglements. Two years ago he moved out of our residence and currently resides in an apartment off of Northlake Boulevard. He’s had various jobs off and on, but rarely keeps a steady one. It’s only because of Loren that he doesn’t go broke and have to come begging to Gary for help.

The personal relationship between Tim and I remains cordial. He’s not the kind of person I want to be closely involved with. Evidenced by some of his dealings last Friday, it’s probably best to keep a certain amount of distance. I’d hate to be present when the inevitable shit hits the fan. And it will, some day, at some time. I try to keep in contact at least once a week. I’ll call him on the holidays and get together every few weeks or so. I believe that Tim does care about me and would be there if I ever needed anything. I wouldn’t categorize the relationship as exceedingly close, but there is a genuine amount of respect and compassion for one another.

There is a certain amount of sadness I feel when looking at Tim’s life. I know for a fact that he is a very smart man. In addition, he doesn’t have the exterior of a convicted felon. This is a person who, if he put his mind to it, could do almost anything he wanted to in life. I believe Tim has never gotten over what happened with his mother over a decade ago. Some would argue he uses it as a crutch, but I genuinely feel he was never able to work through his feelings.

I recall something that happened this past 4th of July. For the first time since her death, Tim was able to go out to the cemetery and visit her grave. This took place with Loren around 4:00 in the morning. I wasn’t aware that he had never once been to the gravesite. I remember to this day listening to Loren tell me this story, with tears flowing down her cheeks in the Quarterdeck Restaurant. Selfishly, I wish I had been there to see the first glimpse into the real Tim. He does a great job at hiding his feelings and making people feel distant from him. Sometimes, it takes years to get a look into someone’s heart and soul. I believe that moment came on the 4th of July when Loren witnessed Tim approaching the headstone.

In all my relationships, I try to see what I can learn from the mistakes of others. The biggest thing I’ve learned is the importance of dealing with one’s feelings. I could talk about the pitfalls of a poor work ethic, or the fact that Tim believes the world owes him something. However, that ignores the biggest culprit behind Tim’s shortcomings as an individual. The inability to deal with his feelings is something that scares me. I write on this Live Journal in large part to deal with my thoughts and feelings. Tim dealt with his feelings by putting on a gruff exterior and refusing to let anyone penetrate his guard. It’s why I can’t say that I know the real Tim, although I’ve seen bits and pieces of it. Nobody, no matter how strong they are, can ever “get over” a traumatic event like the premature death of a parent or close relative. On the other hand, it is possible to work through these things and try to emerge a better and more resolute person.

So, there you have it. I felt it important to take the time to write a little more about Tim. Besides my father, Bob, Tim is the most puzzling figure in my family. It would take a degree in psychiatry to work through the complexities in their lives. The most interesting aspect of our relationship is how our differing lives converged. Tim is the kind of person I would probably never associated with if we weren’t related. And Tim could say the same thing about me. I’m a fairly reserved and quiet individual, while Tim is more on the wild side. Though our personalities couldn’t be more different, I’m proud of the relationship we have forged. No matter how upset I might get with him, I take a step back and say to myself – Tim is Tim. I can’t blame him for being who he is. So when he drinks ¼ of my bottle of JD or shows blatant disregard for the rules of poker, I don’t hold him accountable. I am the one culpable for putting me in that kind of situation.

I’ll conclude by reiterating a theme I referenced earlier. In the (extended) Sias family, Tim is the black sheep. In the (extended) Fultz family, that black sheep would be I.



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