Friday, September 12, 2008

Good Bye, Vinny

He was never a normal child. Restricted by obesity and burdened with special emotional needs, the mental and physical deficits of his early life left him at the mercy of the unkind. Bullying, name-calling, and taunting all rained upon him mercilessly as he navigated his way from early childhood through adolescence and onto adulthood.

For a long time, he feared the mere shadow of his fellow man. He was not given to trust, lest he be assaulted by disappointment yet again. He was driven into emotional exile by some of the worst that humanity had to offer. He appeared defeated.

But something happened. A strength began to emerge. It came from within. Suddenly he found the ability to forgive, and the healing began. Slowly, humanity earned its way back into his trust and faith. A sibling here, a sibling there. A friend here, a friend there. And supported by the kind of affection only a mother knows how to give, he found his way back among the living - and the loving.

How does someone beset by so many challenges and possessed of so few conventional tools find the courage to love again? How does someone so weathered by malevolence end up the very picture of goodness?

My hunch is that the best of what humanity had to offer found its way into his heart. Kindness, compassion and love. Three qualities not given to defeat. And for that we are grateful.

Who was this man? He was my brother. His name was Vinny. He died today at the age of 56 after a long and courageous voyage through life. I know he loved me and the rest of his brothers and sisters because he told us he did every time he spoke to us. And because he taught me how, I was able to love him the way a brother should.

To my precious brother Vinny: Thank you, and . . . Good Bye.


  1. Billy, such a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to you brother.
    You do him proud.
    Call if you need me.

  2. So sorry for your loss. I am so happy to read that your brother was able to overcome such hardships, many never do, but rather wander through life angry and bitter, sometimes rightfully so. Sounds like there was a lot of love there, on both ends.

  3. I too like these previous ladies, have you and your family in my thoughts. I am also glad he was able to conquer what was put in his path to make life difficult.

    MAny a paople go through life angry, and see all that could go wrong (Pssst, my father-in-law) in life. I orfer to see possibilities, and what-ifs. But I am also a realist.

    Thinking of you Bill.

  4. Bill, I'm so sorry for your loss.

    It sounds like your brother was a great inspiration to you and he will live on in your memory forever. I have a special needs son who has taught me so much about the cruel and more importantly the wonderful compassionate people in this world.

    I will read your blog story to my wife tonight, because I think it is a brilliant post.

    Again, thanks for your writing Bill.