Monthly Archives: January 2022
My Brother Richard Jeffries
Forgive me for the delay in writing here. If you follow me on social media, or listen to my radio shows, you know that the New Year hasn’t been kind to me or my family. I caught something- really the first time I’d been sick in a decade- on January 2, and am finally just now close to feeling normal again. My older brother Ricky hasn’t been so fortunate.
My family background is…different. I was born to parents who were ancient for the time- at 46, my mother was the oldest woman ever to give birth at Washington, D.C.’s Sibley Hospital. They were already grandparents- my nephew is over a year older than me. My oldest sister is 19 years my senior, my other sister 16 years older. My brother is closest, but is over eight years older than me.
My brother didn’t seem “weird” to me until November 22, 1963. That’s right- you read that date correctly. It took me years to find out that the two most significant events of my early childhood happened on the same day. At the same time JFK was being assassinated, my brother was being escorted out of his high school by police, for his own safety. A nerdy freshman, he had been dared by some popular kids to “goose,” pinch the ass, of a senior cheerleader. That girl happened to have a General for a father. The school turned a minor offense into a literal crime- my father was forced to hire an attorney.
I have only come to terms in recent years with how much this incident impacted me. I saw what it did to my brother- he would bang his head against the wall in frustration and terrify my seven year old self by coming up and threaten to strangle me. My lifelong antipathy against the rich and powerful, and firm belief that the system is rigged, were born from all the bitter ranting I heard from my father, who had no hope of fighting the power of a General with whatever inadequate lawyer he could afford. My brother was expelled from the school, and forced to attended group therapy sessions with kids who had real mental issues. It was natural that he came to feel that way about himself.
I think I’ve described the details of how the fallout impacted my family, and especially myself as a seven year old. My brother was forced to live with my sister, and my mother put a huge blanket on the subject. She wouldn’t talk about it. I felt like he’d committed some great crime. What exactly was a “goose?” It must be something really horrible. All the kids questioned me about it; why isn’t your brother living with you? There was nothing I could say, which probably made them all suspicious that he had committed a really heinous act. At any rate, I effectively became an only child, parented by a mother and father old enough to be my grandparents. Both became bitter and sick.
Eventually, my brother moved back home after high school graduation, but he was now the “weird” brother everyone instantly made fun of. He had no fight in him, and was pushed around by everyone. Because of his difficult personality, probably 99 percent of those he interacted with disliked him instantly. He became a pitiful figure that just couldn’t elicit pity from people. I became the big brother for good by the time I was twelve or so, and he was twenty. I accepted this role naturally, but also with a great deal of resentment. Why couldn’t I have a normal big brother? Couldn’t he be just a little bit like Wally Cleaver? I watched Leave it to Beaver and fantasized over what it must have been like, to have a cool, protective older brother, not to mention a great role model as a father.
After my father died in 1977, my brother became my mother’s caretaker. This was not a natural role for a young man, especially when there were two older sisters who were more appropriate for the job. But it all fell on him. As a young guy trying to escape my depressing family dynamics, I spent most of the time partying. I did whatever my brother couldn’t do for my mother, so I don’t have any guilt about that. As she developed Alzheimer’s, taking care of her became a full-time job. Since my brother struggled all his life to keep any job for any length of time, he just stopped looking for work. I don’t know about the rest of my family, but I was very grateful to him for taking care of my mother; it became very depressing and difficult work. He may have been unemployed, but he was working harder than most of us.
When my mother died in 1987, my brother continued to have difficulty getting and keeping a job. He needed money often. I felt an obligation to help him as best I could. The ever present spirit of my mother hung over me, to remind me, as she said so often, “always look out for your brother.” Years of rotating therapists, work interventions, and loud advice that was never taken became the essence of our relationship. I would yell at him in frustration, and he’d always take it without fighting back. More than a few people have compared us to Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. Despite the fact whatever is “wrong” with him has never really been quantified, the system eventually just threw its hands up, and he landed in a nice program with good housing and Social Security disability payments.
Two years ago, for the first time in his life he had a minor physical ailment, and his hypochondria kicked in severely. I couldn’t get him to stop calling 9/11 over the most ridiculous things imaginable. He called an ambulance because he was constipated. At one point, he went to various emergency rooms seven times in one week. The police called me at two in the morning, saying he was going to jail if I didn’t come and get him at the emergency room- there was nothing wrong with him, but he refused to leave. I called an Uber for him, and he rejected it. I was so angry when I got there in the middle I night, that I unleashed on him like never before. I had reached the breaking point.
He kept begging me to stay with him, but I whisked him into his apartment and left. The next day, for the first time in his life, he didn’t call me. I began to panic, and the guilt really kicked in. Was that going to be my last interaction with him; screaming and berating him? How could I live with myself? Fortunately, when the police broke his door down, he was barely responsive, and we still don’t know what happened that day. He was very low on sodium, and wound up in hospitals and rehab centers for the next few months. Finally, he was persuaded to take a very mild psychotropic which really helped with his hypochondria. For the next year, things were much, much better.
We had developed a pleasant ritual for the past few months, of going to Red Lobster for lunch every Sunday. I’m sure it reminded him of all the meals he’d eaten with my elderly mother. On Sunday, January 2, he was fine, and I had no symptoms. That night, I started feeling sick. I don’t know if maybe I passed something along to him. On Thursday, January 6, he called me in the afternoon from the hospital. He told me he’d fallen out of bed, and couldn’t get up for an hour and a half. Then he called 9/11, and of course as soon as he walked in the hospital door, they had him tested positive for COVID.
I was so angry at him. I wasn’t there to see what kind of a fall had taken place- it made no sense, and he couldn’t explain it. There were no injuries from this fall. I told him, “you’re in the worst place for this.” I was pretty sick, and they weren’t allowing him any visitors anyhow. Since then, his condition has been spiraling inexorably in the wrong direction. I am scared that he won’t survive this. Because of his personality, he is not doing anything to help himself. For instance, he won’t roll onto his side or stomach, because it “hurts.” He really needs to do this, to help the fluid in his lungs. But that’s Ricky; he’d rather complain about a perceived discomfort than make an effort to get better.
I felt the need to write this. I’m sure my family would be mortified to know I’m sharing some of our deepest and darkest secrets. But none of them read anything I write anyhow, so they’ll never know. I worry that my mother would think it was “awful” that I’m being so open. I wish I could have realized before she died just how significant that high school incident was, in shaping Ricky’s future in such a tragic way. I want so much to ask them both; “Why didn’t you defend him?” How could they let him be bullied by what sounds like a psychotic assistant principal, who followed my brother to his new school, and would walk up to any girl he was talking to, and ask them, “Is he bothering you?”
What happened to my brother seemed to be beyond comprehension. But I know it’s the truth. My father, severely flawed as he was, never sugarcoated anything for his seven year old son. He said whatever he wanted, regardless of the scars it produced. If there had been more to it, if my brother had actually tried to rape the girl or something, my father would have ranted about it in detail. Instead, he just kept harping on how he’d “goosed” a girl and how unfair the system was. I’ve tried looking at the court records, but they’re so old, and would be sealed regardless because he was a juvenile.
Just as Ricky is little help in attempting to beat COVID pneumonia or whatever it is, he can’t provide any real information about the incident. For decades, he would get tremendously upset whenever I tried to broach the subject. My brother, who still remembers the names of kindergarten classmates almost seventy years later, cannot recall the name of the girl whose precious ass he “goosed.” He has suppressed that memory, and probably other things related to the incident which turned his life upside down. I bring it up in his therapy sessions, and they recognize its significance, but it ultimately goes nowhere because he can’t or doesn’t want to remember.
I hope I haven’t lost many of you by this point. Right now, Ricky is first and foremost in my mind. And the fact he is facing a nightmare I have written and spoken about many times makes it more surrealistic. The hard-liners are full of advice; “Get him out of that hospital!” “Get a lawyer!” This is typical keyboard warriorism. My brother has deteriorated to such an extent that he needs oxygen constantly. I can’t take him anywhere; he needs constant medical monitoring. As for an attorney, I found out how difficult that is when I was fired by Inova Health- ironically the same healthcare system that holds my brother’s fate in their hands- and no lawyer would even talk to me about my unfair job termination after 44 years.
I guess it’s fitting that Ricky’s lifelong hypochondria has put him in this dire situation. He couldn’t stop himself from calling 9/11 over a decided nonemergency, and I wasn’t there to stop him. By the time I found out, he was strapped into the system fully, and it isn’t easy to stop that, especially when the individual is seemingly incapable of breathing independently. I can’t see him, and the last few times I tried to talk to him on the phone, he was barely cognizant and doesn’t say anything to even let me know he’s aware that it’s his brother checking on him. It’s sad, and maddening. But then, to a large extent, that has been the story of our relationship for nearly sixty years.
Because my brother will do nothing to help himself, the best case scenario here is that he manages to hang in there, and recuperates at an agonizingly slow rate that could take weeks or even months. He has lots of people praying for him, but as has always been the case, if anything is done, I will have to be the one to do it. And right now, there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do. I can’t even talk to him, because he can’t hear anything I’m saying. Maybe it would be worse to see him in this condition, I don’t know. But the fact that he can’t have visitors compounds the feeling of helplessness.
This was cathartic for me. I am grateful for the platforms I have, and for those of you all over the world who have an interest in what I have to say. I will be devoting tonight’s episode of The Donald Jeffries Show (6-8 pm eastern time on ochelli.com) to my brother. I’m sure I’ll go into even greater detail. There is a lot more to tell. Ricky has been one of the most influential figures in my life. However, in a far different way than that would usually happen. He never guided me, or showed me the way. I’m not sure I ever learned anything from him, but he is certainly responsible for my large reservoir of empathy, even when I have trouble being empathetic towards him
I hope I can get back to writing about conspiracies and corruption. I want to expose the Plandemic for what it is, without it coming back to bite me in the ass, which it seems to have done. 2021 went out badly for me, with the death of one of the best friends I ever had, Joe Burton. And now 2022 is coming in on an even more sour note, with someone even closer to me in a critical situation.
Ricky has never had a break in his life. Luckless. Never met that exceptionally patient soul who could see him for the good guy he is, someone who would never intentionally hurt anyone. Someone who would find all his idiosyncrasies charming, not “weird.” Very few have ever tried to understand him. I know it’s not easy to embrace him, but still the world could have tried a little harder.
My father basically gave up on life when he retired on disability before he was even sixty. My father refused to drive any more, and my mother never learned to drive. I had to depend on my brother to drive me anywhere. He was pretty good about it, always accommodating to the wishes of those around him. But then again, he was turning over his paychecks to my parents, as well, without anyone giving him much credit. That has been the story of Ricky’s life; he has never been praised or lauded for anything. Only berated and criticized. A few good words might have worked wonders for his self-esteem.
So this fragile, seventy three year old, with no weapons at his disposal, lies in an intensive care unit at Fair Oaks Hospital. No one see him, and he can’t hear when you call him on the phone. I remain anxious, more full of stress than usual, my heart jumping when the telephone rings, So many people are praying for Ricky; maybe that will have an impact. No one is more overdue for a break than Ricky. For fortune to finally shine on him. For him to regain the only thing he’s ever really had in life; his health. At long last, to have some good luck.
POSTSCRIPT: A day after writing this, my brother Ricky passed away. My wife and I finally got to see him, and spent three hours with him that morning, until I couldn’t take it any longer. He wasn’t responsive, but I hope he heard me tell him I loved him. My heart is broken. I am not handling this very well.