Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Brett

Today I am full of mixed emotions. It is my second cousin’s 37th birthday. He is riddled with cancer.

My second cousin is my age and has had a tough life, some of it due to circumstance and some due to his own doing. Being a similar age to me and being the product of a single parent family Brett would often stay with my family for holidays. In fact he stayed with us for months on end while my cousin (his mother) sorted her life out. He was very nearly formally put into my parents care.

Before he would visit my mother would tell myself and my two brothers to hide our change jars. I always wondered why but I have to give my parents credit for recognizing something. Comparing a kid who grew up in Dandenong to me as a naïve kid from the country, no wonder my parents were keeping an eye out.

Brett went off the rails at an early age. At 16 or so he ‘broke’ into his own house and stole his step father’s tools to hock at the pawn shop.

I am unsure if you recall but in the late 80s and early 90s the Herald Sun (The Sun in those days) used to publish wanted criminal’s pictures on page three, like the crime stoppers section now. My cousin turned up in that section a few times as he jumped bail and was wanted in connection for a few crimes. My mother still has the cut out section of the paper. I remember as a teenager reading the paper over breakfast saying “Brett’s in the paper again Mum”.

After that he went off the radar. I would hear through the family grapevine that he was in Sydney, he had somehow found a lawyer who got him off the charges, and found a job.

In 2001 he turned up at a family wedding in Melbourne and appeared to be back on track. He would keep in contact with his grandmother (my Aunty). Things looked like they were on the improve. Things went quiet again and the next I heard he was in treatment for cancer in 2004.

After successful treatment all the news I heard was positive. He had a partner, a job, a normal life for once. Things were looking up.

Last year over grandfinal weekend it was his grandmother’s 80th birthday. It was no surprise to have Brett turn up out of the blue. It was the first time I had seen him since 2001 and he looked happy and healthy. It was good to see he finally had his shit together.

Then over the last month things have turned for him again. Follow up scans revealed he had brain cancer and possible lung cancer. Further tests revealed cancer is throughout his body and it is no use doing any surgery. He is currently undergoing chemo and the outlook is not great.

It really makes me wonder about life and what is left once you go. What is his legacy? What is mine?

It also gives me a reality check about health and what can happen to you.

A birthday should be a happy day. A time to reflect on things and to look forward to another year. Today I am reflecting on Brett’s life and wonder if he will have another year. I hope he does.

Happy Birthday Brett.

31 comments:

Margarita Milonguita said...

Lovely post, DM. Well written and thoughtful.

Brett's legacy? He turned around a bad situation at the right time. He will leave this earth being thought of in a positive way instead of people thinking perhaps that he had it coming.
Happy Birthday indeed.

dam buster said...

Thanks MM. Hopefully he is around long enough to enjoy some more of the good life.

Jayne said...

Many happy returns for your cousin, DB, hope he has a happy day.

Frisky Librarian said...

Something I've also been thinking about lately, as you know, which is kinda morbid, I admit.

Let's hope Margarita is right.

dam buster said...

FL - We all at times ask questions like that. Of course it can be morbid but we have to try and stay positive about things.

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