Stop and think…

My dad has a lot of brothers. There’s the mysterious one that I have come to believe is either a CIA operative or an American connection to South American drug lords. There’s the one who gets married once every half decade. There’s the one I never see and if I do, it is always surrounded by whispers from the rest of the family. And then there are my two favorites…a set of twins…Connie Mack and Ronnie. They are the fun ones, the smart ones, the smiling ones.

More to the point…they are the brothers (my uncles) that always seemed to treat my dad like a brother. I’m not quite sure what that means to everybody else, but it’s true on its face. And what happened to one of those brothers (and what has happened to a young boy I don’t even know) is why I sat down to write.

I hesitate to put this down here because I know it will bring up painful memories for one of my most encouraging readers. This is not my story and I probably don’t have much right to put it down on a computer screen. But I’m going to talk about my small part anyway and I hope it doesn’t…doesn’t do whatever I hope it doesn’t do.

I was a young kid at the time and I don’t remember the specifics. I’m glad I don’t. The memory is quick movie scenes…a phone call, a moment of helplessness, a realization that my dad could cry.

My grandpa called when my parents weren’t home. He was a lot younger then and his voice commanded attention. He said my Uncle Ronnie had been in a car wreck. He was working at the time and he was in a bad car wreck. My family needed my dad. I didn’t know how to get hold of him. It was a time before cell phones and pagers. I didn’t know what to do and to this day can’t remember how or if I ever did. My dad found out and the next memory I have is standing out behind my mom’s black Ford Ranger pick up truck with my dad. He was crying and didn’t want me to see it happen.

It seems like an unjustice to skip over the next few years. But I have to…simply because I can’t adequately explain what they were like. My uncle lived, but he changed. I can’t even say how. He was in a coma for a long time and after he gradually woke up he went though years of rehabilitation. He is in a wheelchair now. His mind is sharp. His speech is slurred. You can still see in Uncle Ronnie in his eyes, but there’s a lot missing.

For a family…there is little that can compare to that kind of change. Even a similar story is no comparison…but it is a similar story–and what I have read about it–that got me to stop and think today.

Ryan Cockrell is 12 years old. He loves baseball. He’s a pitcher. Just a few weeks ago, his coach put him in the game. He threw two pitches. The second pitch became a line drive. The line drive hit Ryan in the temple. He’s been through three brain surgeries. It happened right around here and I didn’t think about it very much when it happened. Then I happened upon his family’s website. His family is…in a way…blogging about his progress and it sounds really familiar. What strikes me most is the family’s undying hope that Ryan will get better, that a Grandfather’s visit and Sportscenter on TV is enough to bring light into the kids eye.

When the rain falls, the temperature falls, and Spring seems to be on hiatus, there is an urge to focus on your fat ass, your dead end job, your messy house. You’re pretty sure your life sucks and there ain’t much that is going to change that. But stop and think.

I’ve only seen my dad cry twice. Both of those times were really–for the lack of a better word–bad. Thing is…I’ve still got the same dad I had all those years ago. And I have a lot more. There may be a moral here somewhere, but it is not my place to deliver it. I only ask that you stop and think about Ryan Cockrell for two seconds after you finish this. And if you feel so moved, sign his guest book. All you have to do is click on the words “family’s website” up above.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *