Columnists — 01 May 2012

By Jerry Wilson

It was a clear morning on May 1st, 1987.  The sky was a cold light blue, not summer blue. It was close to  freezing.

I went into town at 8:30 and got a licence tag for the  world’s junkiest wood truck, then went to Mom and Dad’s where the truck was  parked for the month of April.

I had a deal to buy a  wood rack from Cory Henderson.  I got Glen to help me take the stakes off  the back of the truck so I could haul the wood rack. Then I asked him to be  there when I got back from Cory’s to help put the other  rack  on.

It took longer than expected to go to Cory’s and  back. When I got to Wilson road there was no sign of Glen or the two  dogs.

I went in to see if Glen was inside. Glen’s note  was on the kitchen table, written on blue paper. As soon as I read it I knew  it was real.

I went outside, looked around and yelled for Glen  and the dogs, then I drove the truck  through the fields to Glen’s party  shack.

Glen was lying in the dry timothy, face down on top of Dad’s  old Lee Enfield. There was a small bloody hole in the back of his faded purple  sweatshirt. His hands were already cold. For reasons I still don’t know, I  wanted to see my brother’s face. I rolled him on his back.  I don’t know  if I expected pain, relief, or sadness to show in his face, but there was no  expression at all.

The dogs were howling from inside the shack  so I let them out, then had a heck of a time to get them away from Glen. They  seemed excited about the smell of blood and gunpowder and the other sour  smell. They wouldn’t get in the truck with Harvey though they got along with  him earlier. I had to drag both of them back to the shack and lock them in  again.

When I got in the truck I sat looking at Glen for a few  minutes. He looked tiny, like a rag doll, I was sure I could pick him up with  one hand. He had a sweatshirt, jeans and boots on and I wished I had a warm  blanket to put on him.

When I got back to the  house, Mom was outside in her housecoat. She worked nights at the post office  but I must have woke her up when I was yelling for Glen. She had seen the note  and knew it was real.

I couldn’t use the word dead about Glen  so I said he was done, finished. Mom’s whole body shook and, before I could  reach her, she fell over right on her face in the gravel by her car. I thought  she would be really messed up but she came to right away.  I helped her  in and got her to sit on the couch while I phoned Dad at work and the police.  Dad arrived before the police. I told the guy at the electrical shop to tell  him that  Mom was sick. I made him sit down before I told him what had  happened.

I told the police I had to go tell Grandma  Wilson she had lost another grandson before I could go with them to give   a statement. She had lost a 21 year old son in 1965, her husband ( of 55  years) in 1977, and  19 and 22 year old grandsons in 1985.

Glen  had bipolar disorder for years but the cause of his suicide had something to  do with him turning 30 on April 17th that year. He had made a trip to visit  some friends in Winnipeg but nobody guessed why he went there then, he was  planning his death for weeks.

I never blamed Glen for  setting me up to find him, because it was better than Dad or Mom finding him.   I haven’t forgiven him for hurting us so bad though. In the note he said  that he loved us all and that it was nobody’s fault. Glen didn’t belong to  himself, he belonged to a family that loved him and he had no right to take  himself away from us.

Some parts of what happened 25 years ago  seem like the week before  last.

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About Author

Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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