Sunday, April 13, 2008
This is Charles!
Hello friends. I want to tell you about the angel in my life. It is my brother, Charles. Charles is 58, and mentally challenged. He lives in a home with 5 other "family" members in San Antonio. It was his choice to move to SA many years ago to be near some of his friends. Charles is always so happy and outgoing, and he was always busy doing something all the time. He has loved the jobs that he has had. He has worked in the shelters before, but he really wanted a job out in the public. So he got a job with a What a Burger, and he worked hard there cleaning tables, and keeping the parking lot clean, taking out the trash, and any thing else that he could do, he did it. Some customers came back again and again to see Charles and his smile, his good nature, and how hard he worked. He won Employee of the Year at his store, but then to his surprise, his home was able to find his "dream job". The car wash!
Like I said, Charles loves to work, and he really loved his job at the car wash. He would do back breaking vacuuming of the cars, and drying the cars all day long. It didn’t matter if it was near freezing, or 105, he was on the job, and doing his best. His boss said that Charles is an inspiration to everyone that he comes in contact with, and that he has taught all of the new hires not only how to do their job, but how to be at work on time, clean and shaven, with a smile on their face everyday, and to do a good day’s work, and that you don’t leave early, but stay until all the work is done. I am so proud of my brother. He has never been a burden to his family....instead he is the joy in our lives.
Charles has always been healthy, and living a happy life, until one day in October. We got a call from Charles’ house mother, and she said Charles had broken his arm at work, and that he was on the way to the hospital. So my sister Mary and I jumped in the car and went down to SA. It takes about 4 to 6 hours to get there, depending on the traffic.
When we got there Charles was back home, and really dopey. His hand was swollen, and he had his arm in a sling. So we talked to him and he said he was OK, and not hurting. Then we went to talk to the house mom. She told us that the doctors were not able to set Charles’ arm because the break was caused by a tumor on the bone in his upper right arm. We continued to talk, and my sister and I were just devastated, and trying not to be upset around Charles. We went to our motel and wept over the news.
The next day we went with Charles to see an oncologist. She said that from the x-rays she could see that Charles had some form of cancer. As I’m sure you can imagine, we never expected this would happen especially since no one else in our family has had cancer. We stayed all week, and the doctor did a biopsy on Charles’ arm. She said that Charles has multiple myeloma, which is cancer of the blood, and cancer cells attach themselves to the bone marrow all over the body, especially the larger bones, and it also spreads to the other organs. They found a huge mass on his tail bone and all around it, and that the cancer was already in his liver, besides being in his arm and other bones. It is considered to be one of the worse types of cancer, with many devastating effects on the body. She sent Charles to a doctor that specializes in the type of cancer that he has.
The doctor told us that Charles’ arm will not heal. He ordered a brace that Charles wears under his clothes to immobilize his arm and shoulder, and he still wears the sling to help support his arm. At that time we were told that Charles could not be helped by chemotherapy. They did do 10 radiation treatments on his bones to strengthen them to try to keep any more from breaking. Charles never complains. There is a smile on his face for everyone he sees, and he has never said or done anything bad in his life. That is why I call him my angel, because it is hard to believe that there is someone as good as Charles on this earth. We were also told that Charles only had 6 months left to live. He is on a really good pain medication program, and he is still mobile, but he uses a wheelchair when he goes out.
Charles loves to fly (and he worked and paid for his own plane tickets, his clothes, and anything else that he wanted), but the doctors will not allow him to fly now. Because he hasn’t worked since last October, Charles’ bank account is nearly empty. We try to buy him everything that he wants, but we have the expenses of going to SA so often to see him, and we have to save for expenses later. All of this with Charles living in SA, and us living in Ft. Worth has been so difficult, but we are making it. We are happy to spend our last dollar on Charles.
Charles wanted to come home for Christmas, as usual, so we went and got him, and we made it fine. We had a wonderful old fashioned Christmas with lots of baking and cooking, like it was when we were kids. Then, Charles was still feeling pretty good at Easter, and he wanted to come home for the Easter bunny. I drove down on Thursday morning, picked Charles up, and drove back home. Charles was really tired when they got here. He ate a snack and took his medications and went to bed. The next day he was feeling better and talking about the Easter bunny, and the eggs, and the food. We had another wonderful holiday with Charles, and he got a big basket from the bunny filled with all kinds of snacks, candies, crackers, jerky, etc., and we had a huge ham for lunch and Charles ate and ate.
Jeannie took Charles back on Monday, and again he was so tired, but he was also feeling really weak. Sis and I decided that Charles couldn’t make any more long trips. Since October, we have gone down to SA every other weekend , or sometimes we go every week, and even twice in a week to see about him, or to see his doctors or the people that own Charles’ home. Charles’ hospice doctor recently said that Charles’ liver is completely covered in the cancer, and they do not know how he can still be going. They say it is a miracle, and I say that it is the power of prayer, and God is letting us keep his angel just a little longer.
You may ask why I am writing this about my brother. Well, that is because I need your help, and I wanted you to hear about a fantastic person. First, I need your prayers for Charles that he will never have to suffer any pain, and that when it is his time to go that he will slip away, quietly in his sleep. We did have to tell Charles that he has cancer, but that doesn’t mean anything to him. He knows that my sister lost her husband to cancer, but Charles doesn’t understand about death. We told him that one day he will go to sleep, and when he wakes up he will be with mom and dad, and my brother-in-law, but he didn’t ask any questions. Second, like all small children, Charles loves to get mail, and I am asking you to send Charles a card or a note. It doesn’t need to be any thing fancy, and if you put a dollar in the card he will be the happiest man on earth. He can’t count very high, but he knows a $1 bill, and he loves to have a dollar in his wallet, and he will go with a worker from the home to go drink coffee at Denny’s. He loves his coffee!
Charles is a cowboy. He lives for western movies, and Walker, Texas Ranger, but now he will watch Gibbs on NCIS too. He thinks the Dallas Cowboys are the greatest team in the world, and he doesn’t care if they win or loose, he just loves to watch them. He also wears boots and jeans, a western hat, and a belt with a nice big buckle. Some days he will wear his bolo tie and his sheriff’s badge.
Well, I know this is a long post, but I really wanted you to know about this wonderful man out there that cares deeply about people, and things in his life. He has never met a stranger, and he is a great friend, and he has taught us so many things about life. I just want to say that if you don’t have an extra dollar, that’s OK. He will be fine without it, but I hope you are able to send him a card or a note just to say hi or get well, and if you don’t have the time right now to send a card, then would you please just take a second and say a little prayer for the greatest brother in the world, and if you can’t do that, then God bless you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter, and please tell your friends about Charles too, and thank you so much for the prayers, the cards, the money, or whatever you can do to help Charles have just another happy day.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you Charles address.
Posted by Mary Lynn at 12:43 AM