When I was 13, my 15-year-old sister had a baby. She and the baby's father moved into our house and the baby, Steven, was raised there for several years. He was a loveable child and I enjoyed watching him grow.
As Steven and I both grew up we intermittently spent a lot of time together. I can remember so vividly when he was in high school and we were both living in the Houston area. The boy loved David Letterman and Miami Vice and he and I spent a lot of time talking about both of those things, because, basically, that was all he ever wanted to talk about.
I was back in California when he entered college. He was going to "Sam Houston," the university by Huntsville Prison (these are the college kids that party while the condemend are executed - though of course not all the students are so crass). Turns out that Steven never went to class, he started partying the day he arrived and stayed drunk for weeks before getting thrown out of school.
After this his relationship with his Mother and by now long time stepfather was very strained and Steven tended to go from job to job and city to city, often stealing cars and other things and writing bad checks. He hooked up with his biological father but they became estranged when he caught Steven stealing.
Once, in 1989, I got a call from Steven. I remember I was sitting in my house in San Francisco just after the big earthquake. Steven was sober in AA and was calling to make amends to me. Aparently during the time we were so close while he was in high school he used to steal cigarettes out of my pack of Marlboro 100s, and he'd always felt guilty about it. We talked a long time. He confessed that he'd started drinking in high school and that once he started he couldn't stop. He was enjoying AA and had made a lot of good friends, some of which he was living with. I was very glad for this phone call and was convinced that Steven was on the mend and on the way to a better life.
Not much longer, I heard from his sister I think that he was back to his old ways -- drinking, lying and stealing. Over time though he did manage to settle into a sort of life working as a line cook in Rocky Mountain resort towns. Still drinking, but working and supporting himself. He'd developed a huge resentment against his mother and stepfather and refused any contact with them. This broke my sister's heart and she turned into a profoundly sad middle-aged woman. She spent(spends) most of her time in a room, watching her collection of old movies.
Okay. I can't remember the year, but about five years ago I heard that Steven was in a hospital in Colorado in a coma. A day later he was dead, of something called "alcoholic hepatitis." Steven's sister, who knew the woman Steven was living with, found out from her that Steven had been drinking about a case of beer and a quart of vodka each day for as long as she could remember. She told Steven's sister (Joy is her name) that Steven just collapsed at work all of a sudden, and never really woke up before his death the next day.
Today is Steven's 40th birthday and I can't stop thinking about him. My facebook update has a picture of him with my sister before things turned so awful. (edit, I just added it below. this really gives a deeper reality than just the words to this story, doesn' it?)
Thanks for reading yet another tale of Mike Monson's dysfunctional extended family. I'm convinced there is a purpose to sharing these stories.
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