Bittersweet Remembrance of His Short Career

ImageThe little boy, Jay, wrestling and tumbling with Brandon, has autism. He is four years old in this picture…not long before Brandon died. His mother was a very good friend of both Brandon and his wife. She told me when she sent me this of the last of Brandon…that it was Brandon who would come over to give Jay his injection while Jay slept…and he never woke up or even flinched because Brandon was so gentle and so good at what he did. Jay’s mom told me that he loved Brandon because Brandon would take up so much time with him.

Image     A photo of Brandon and Jay’s mom when they were in high school. They all hung out and she dated Brandon’s friend. Her father wrote on Brandon’s legacy page that one time Brandon saw some guys bullying her younger brother in the halls at school…and as he put it, “Brandon quickly diffused the situation.” It sounded so much like my son to do that kind of thing.

One of Brandon’s first jobs after he graduated from college/nursing school, was a position at the local prison as the nurse. When Brandon passed it was told to me by my friend who knew people from the prison administration that Brandon was well liked and that the one thing that they remembered clearly was whenever his wife would call him at work…he would always be visibly upset afterward.

Just the other day, my daughter, who works for a hearing aid company, told me that a nurse from the prison came in to have one of the inmate’s hearing aids repaired. My daughter told her that her brother used to work there and the lady asked what was his name. Coincidentally, the woman was Brandon’s former supervisor. She spoke highly of Brandon and told my daughter that Brandon would always want to help the prisoners who, in her opinion, did not deserve it. She also reiterated the situation with the calls from his wife, saying that he was upset by her calls. What can I do with this information now? I have to look at the tender heart of a young man…my son, who was in a world that is filled with vitriol and hatred. I am helpless and so mad because I could not help him.

I remember the first year Brandon worked at the prison two inmates died by suicide. Brandon was a first responder and it affected him deeply. One of those happened on his birthday. He told me about it when I called him to tell him “Happy Birthday.”  Brandon wrote a story about the whole ordeal but I never read it until after he passed away.

When Brandon left the prison for a better job, he went to work at a transition type facility that operated almost as a nursing home but was a rehab center for those being rehabilitated after surgery or extended illnesses. Image I was told by his coworkers of how kind he was to his patients, spending his lunch hour having lunch in the room with one of his patients…a kind old gentleman who was actually the father of one of Brandon’s co-workers. He died a few months after Brandon. Those who worked with Brandon remembered his wit and kindness most of all. They said he would leave funny drawings posted at the nurse’s station.

The morning of the night when Brandon died, he told me that he thought that maybe he had chosen the wrong career field. Of course, I encouraged him and told him that maybe he had not found the right niche…the right office for what he did. I always thought he would be well suited for sports medicine with his background in athletics and his personal interest in sports and supplements. He agreed and our conversation went another direction. He sounded so good in spite of his problems. He called at 10:10 a.m. on the morning of Friday, March 6, 2009 and I passed around the phone to his dad and his sister…and it lasted 17 minutes….and we said “good-bye…”……..


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