I'll see you on the other side.
These were the last words spoken to me by my late brother Garth. Late, that's funny. He was always late in one way or another. Now that he is in the perpetually, irreversibly "late" category it's time to tell the world about him; I just hope that this time the world will listen.
Born in the mid 50's, Garth was the fourth of eight children growing up in a low income, working class household in a small town in central Pennsylvania right on the Susquehanna river; paradise to all who would explore nature's bounty. Mom and dad worked hard to provide for all eight of us, but with eight mouths to feed and souls to nurture someone was destined to get lost in the shuffle. Both our parents loved us equally although Garth created ways to escape their love for some reasons unknown.
Garth was a glass blower, a dry cleaner, a bartender, a musician and an avid Japanese monster film fan. He tried to set up his girlfriend (originally a SC cockeyed, bill the cat look-a-like, white trash, dogfightin', cockfightin' she devil that she is) for his murder through a series of phone calls, last of which was to me, implicating her in his upcoming immolation. I know he doesn't sound like a very likable character, but he was. In fact, if I may quote Samuel L. Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction, he was "one charming mother fuckin' pig." When he needed you or was in a manic state there was no better friend on the planet for fun and even the occasional deep conversation, and he was always up for a movie...especially a "B" or "C" grade horror flick. Oh, and he had a tanning bed filling one entire room in his trailer to keep him from turning "olive".
Garth shared fine musical and artistic talent with his siblings along with a genetic predisposition towards depression. His musical interests linked him with a culture of drug use that nearly killed him in his twenties and ultimately contributed to his suicide in his forties. I don't know all the details of his last few weeks, but the pieces have been falling into place for the last 18 months since he set himself on fire in a gruesome act of self-immolation that betrayed the seething anger and confusion he tried so desperately to keep hidden. I will spend the rest of my life trying to understand the last few weeks of his life and the events that would turn him down that dark road.
From my first year as a teenager to the age of thirty-five I was blessed and cursed by knowing my brother Garth well enough to think I understood him. Now that he's gone I realize that I didn't know anything about himů If you do, please tell me.
These are all true stories of his life and cockeyed adventures as told by me, his youngest sibling. As it stands now there are 20 chapters in all. I'm writing them out of sequence chronologically and don't have the luxury of just banging them all out together, so please be patient.
© Nate Sheaffer 2000-2018