Posted by: rundadrun | January 10, 2011

The Fixer-Upper

It may cost me my “Man Card”, but I have to admit, I can’t fix everything.  It is not because of lack of trying, believe me…or just ask my wife.  But it has taken me almost 44 years to finally admit that there are some things that I cannot fix.

I started early trying to be a fix-it-all.  When I was 11 years old, our family home burned to the ground.  Obviously, this was a traumatic event and our family was changed forever.  Once the ashes cooled down, one of the things we did to try to come to grips with the loss was to literally dig through the ashes looking for anything that survived.  There were some amazing discoveries that gave us a bit of a pick-me-up, like my mother’s ceramic dolls that were saved, and the discovery that most of the family pictures were saved when my father and grandfather ran back in and saved the cabinet they were in.  But most of what was found was in very bad shape.

I remember finding a small metal box that of rings that belonged to my mother.  I was so proud to find something that looked like it could still be saved, that I decided to make it even better by “cleaning up” her ring that had each of her sons’ birthstones in it.  The gold was blackened and slightly bent, but I thought for sure that I could fix it.  So, I went to our garage, which was separated from the house, and got my dad’s bench grinder fired up.  I then proceeded to grind all the soot off the gold ring and shine up the stones.  Needless to say, I ruined the ring beyond repair.  If I had just given box to my mom, she probably could have had a jeweler repair it to at least close to it’s original beauty.

This attitude of “I can fix anything” went out the window when my family started to deal with the addictions of my younger brother.  We aren’t really sure when he started having trouble with alcohol, but I know it was before he got out of high school.  He was raised in the same house as I was, so it was a real surprise that he was drinking at all, much less that he couldn’t stop.  He went from a promising young man with a true love and faith in God to a very functional drunk before any of us really knew what had happened.  He hid it for years, but it was getting worse and worse.  My family tried a lot of different ways to bring him back.  But after a terrible accident that left him brain-damaged, his downhill run accelerated into an all out free fall.  Again, my older brother and my mom tried everything.  When he would talk to me, I tried to convince him he had to stop, but none of what was tried ever really worked.  He was broken, and we could not fix him.  I know that there were times throughout this long, slow train wreck, when he would try to get his life back.  He would seek out old friends who were still living a life of faith and would appear to be interested in coming home to what he knew was right.  But in the end, the demons were  bigger than his ability to fight them off. 

Sometime on Tuesday, December 21st, Jeff lost his battle with alcohol.  He was found dead behind a building not far from where we grew up.  It was later discovered that his blood alcohol level was 0.47.  Almost half his blood volume was alcohol.  The first thing I thought when I found out was, “why didn’t I try harder to fix him.”  I know that my older brother struggled with the same thing.  But I can now say that I don’t believe anyone on earth could fix Jeff.  But I do know that in the end, God has made him whole again.  At long last, Jeff is “Fixed”.   The “Great Physician” has kept His promise and Jeff is resting in His Glory. 

We all need to realize that we are broken.  I hope it doesn’t take the kind brokeness that my brother went through for me to know that my Father can fix anything, if I will only let Him.  Rest in His arms little brother.

My little brother Jeff

Your brother,




  1. Rob, I am not even sure what to say to what you have written. I think you have expressed what your family is feeling right now. I know where you are in so many levels, but in other ways I can’t understand. Please know that you are all in my prayers. I look forward to seeing you soon. It has been SO long. I love ya.

    • Charla, I know you more than most know what losing a sibling does to you. God bless and thanks for being here for us. Can’t wait to see you either.

  2. Oh, the pain of seeing this handsome man who had so much going for him fall apart right in front of you. At various times he would seek out those whom he felt were strong in the faith. But as you said fix was just not there. His stories would not match up, a room for a few nights, some food for the stomach, not cash, advice, prayers hope and then dashed promises. I too feel it was demons that were just too powerful, and I agree, that now, NOW at last! he is free. God and God alone knows and we without judgement call, praise HIM and pray God rest the soul of Jeff. I was so sad to hear of his death, but relieved in knowing his pain had ceased.

    • Thank you Lee. I know that you had a front row seat for the good and the bad. I know that Jeff really looked up to you and your faith. Hope to get to see you in a week or so.

  3. So sorry for your loss. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. What you wrote beautifully expresses how impossibly difficult it is to watch someone we love and hold in our hearts fall apart, and the angst of witnessing it happening, knowing there is nothing you can do but surrender to your faith. Thank you for writing it.

    • Thank you so much Elizabeth. I am amazed at how much good it does to write things out sometimes. I very much appreciate your prayers.

  4. Thank you for sharing your loss with us. I have no doubt it was very difficult to write this blog. You are an inspiration and your message has touched me deeply. I will keep you, your brother, and your family in my prayers. Kathi

  5. Thank you Kathi. I would be so happy if some of the things we had to go through with my brother helped someone else who was hurting. Thanks for the prayers and thoughts.

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