Tonight we had a viewing of Robert’s brother Raymond Challis. Afterward, the Chaplin led the family into sharing stories about Raymond. I would have liked to have known the man they described instead of the broken man I knew. He a world traveler, fisherman, and humorous person who loved life. I am happy that his other brothers and sister has fond memories of him; they are missing him greatly.
My husbands’ memory of him that stands out was a painful one. He was in high school, and his parents had a custody fight in court over the two young boys in Kindergarten and 1st grade; Raymond and Patrick. His mother threw him under the bus lying about him to the court so that the court ordered a restraining order against Robert. His mother excuse later was that she had already lost him (Robert) and she didn’t want to lose the other two boys. Robert had to observe his little brothers from a distance, and he died a little each time.
Fast forward five years, I am in the picture now. Raymond and Patrick take turns visiting their dad and brothers in another state. There was a lot of tension surrounding their visit so that we were discouraged by dad and step-mom to not go around and visit them. My mom and dad Jack- an electrician- would visit with Raymond every day when they lived in the country and Ray was working on a job site near their home as an electrician. Raymond ate dinner with them and just visited on many occasions until the job was done. I learned about him through mom’s phone calls, as we lived in a different state. Dad was pleased that Raymond had chosen to be an electrician too.
Ten years later, Robert & I move our little family back to Oklahoma. We meet a damaged Raymond and his co-hab wife who had two children from another marriage. We put effort into trying to get to know Raymond, but the wife discouraged it as they were too busy to get involved with us and I was a “holy roller” (I was involved in church). All our children grow up without being involved in each other’s life.
Raymond visits his mom, and Robert gets to see him occasionally as Raymond visits because Raymond had moved out of state and married Kris. Unfortunately everytime I saw Raymond as a teenager and adult he was buzzed or just plain drunk, with alcohol drinking and couldn’t carry on a conversation of substance. Finally, Raymond moved back to Oklahoma four years ago, but Robert & I had been re-established in Texas by then, and I didn’t get to see him but twice for a few minutes when I went to Oklahoma to visit my mom. Robert talked over the phone with Raymond a few times and visited him in the hospital a year ago.
The tension was thick; Robert & Raymond didn’t have anything in common save being brothers, the damage had been done, their fate had been sealed a long time ago. It’s easy to blame the mother and dad for the fighting that destroyed the brotherhood at such a young age and set into motion a change of events to where we were gathered at today. It is tragic. Raymond was an atheist and Robert, and I believe and worship GOD. Raymond was an alcoholic, Robert and I are tea-toters by choice. Although they were separated 40 years, Robert still loves the Kindergarten Raymond very much and misses the boy he was and mourns the man he never really knew.