Monday, May 28, 2012

It's Just a Car, But He's My Brother

My baby brother LT and I in 2006.
I miss him everyday.

In 2008, we lost my youngest brother Tony, who we always called LT for Little Tony, in a car accident.  I miss him dearly. 

Growing up, my mom had saved her money and bought herself a brand new 1996 Pontiac Trans Am.  All of us kids drooled over this car and each of us were able to drive it to our own special events.  It was a six speed, so we all knew how to drive a stick shift and drive it well.  We also knew that if ANY harm happened to mom's car while we were in it, we were in big trouble.

As we aged, my brothers: Isaac, Mike and LT fought over who would "inherit" the car someday.  With all the bickering, my mom gave me, the only girl, the car as part of my inheritance in 2007.  I've held on to this car and taking care because I told my mom I would and because it reminded me so much of LT.

When LT was killed, it was over Labor Day weekend in 2008 and my parents were here in Indiana with my grandma and I, while LT was at home in Kentucky.  I remember the phone ringing at 5:30 A.M. in the morning and my mom asking me if Bill and I were ok because they had just received a call from the Indiana State Police letting her know that one of her kids had been in an accident and that they were on their way to her and my dad (who were staying with my grandma).  Can you imagine being awoke by the State Police and being told that one of your children had been in an accident?  I went into total panic mode, so I can only imagine how my parents must have felt.  Bill and I get up and left to go to my grandma's within minutes.  The entire way there, I am calling my other siblings to see if they are ok. answer. answer. answer.  Mike...finally Kristy, my sister-in-law answers the phone.  Asking her if she and Mike are ok and if she had heard the news, she tells me that it was LT and that he was killed.  What?  No. I'm still asleep.  I'm dreaming, yes I'm dreaming.  No, this is reality.  Bill has to grab my arm and say "what?" before I can comprehend what I have just been told.  Even four years later, it's devastating news to recount. 

LT had been killed in a car accident shortly after midnight.  The State Police came and told all of us what had happened according to the Kentucky State Police.  One of the officers even cried as he told us.  If you think that they don't have a tough job, you're wrong.  We drove my parents back to Kentucky and helped plan things the best we could.  In situations like this, nothing is natural, there is no normalcy - you're entire world is off when something like this happens.  Mom and Dad didn't want a minister and asked me to deliver the eulogy.  Definitely the hardest thing I ever had to write or deliver in front of people, but I did it.  Here it is:

Eulogy for L.T. Wilkinson
Delivered by: Lis McDonnell, L.T.’s big sis
September 4, 2008

On behalf of the Wilkinson Family, we want to say thank you for being a part of this service.  Yesterday was a celebration about Tony (L.T.) Eugene Wilkinson II’s life and today we lay him to rest.  L.T. was my brother, and the brother to Mike, Conni, Kelli, and Isaac.  He was the baby boy to my parents Tony and Rebecca, grandson to Mae and Grace, much loved “Uncle T” to Harmony (5) and Tyler (3), and beloved boyfriend to Michelle.  Many of you know him as family, neighbor, friend, or colleague, but whatever the relationship to him is, we all know him as a young man who was easy going, easy to love, and fun spirited.  He was 22, young and handsome.  There truly wasn’t a mean bone in his body.  Ornery yes, but not mean.  L.T. lived life to the fullest.  He loved to hunt, fish, and play in the mud and attend Camp Jeep with our parents.  He was even able to convince our mom to take pictures of him while popping willies on the 4-wheeler.  Did I mention he was ornery?
I would now like to read you my brother’s favorite book of the Bible:
Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.                                   
He restoreth my soul; He guideth me in straight paths for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. 
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; 
Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; 
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We all have memories of L.T., I want to share a few of my most precious with you now:
When L.T. was young, he loved teenage mutant ninga turtles, remote control cars, Indiana Jones movies and Matchbox cars.  As a high schooler, he loved playing football and hearing mom and Bert ring their cow bells from the bleachers, he enjoyed attending vocational school and of course, the monster trucks.  As he grew into an adult, camping, jeeps, 4-wheelers and the outdoors became more of his passion.

Being L.T.'s older sister, I had a chance to not only love him, but teach him things that my parents would appreciate both of us for.  You know, like teach a little kid to sing a recently released country hit song like Alan Jackson’s “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” at the top of his lungs over and over again to mom and dad.  Or give him advice on mistakes that I had made and encourage him not to make them too.  I told L.T. that the best advice I could give him would be to live at home with mom and dad until he was 30 or they kicked him out.  He just laughed and told me was fairly certain mom wasn’t going to let him live there that long, but as long as she was doing the cooking, he was going to keep eating!

My favorite story however, is when L.T. called my husband Bill and I and asked us on advice about what pick up lines he could use on girls.  I told him I wasn’t much help because I didn’t pickup girls – just guys – and I already had my guy and Bill said well L.T. I just asked your sister if she wanted to go get a coke and well, I don’t think that’s such good advice.  L.T. wanted to know why not and Bill said well, because I ended up getting married to her.  I, of course, didn’t think it was humorous, but the guys got a good laugh, and that’s what L.T. did, he made us laugh.  He made us have fun and we loved him for it.

At this time, my mom has some special words she would like to say and then we’ll briefly open it up to anybody else that might have a story they would like to share.

(Mom) – spoke about L.T. being born on dad’s birthday and the fact that the doctor’s name was Tony, dad’s name was Tony, and they were naming L.T. Tony.  Then the doctor couldn’t decide if L.T. was a boy or a girl until they saw a stream of pee.

(Anybody) – nobody spoke

I would like to close with a poem sent by my mom’s friend Linda Fisher entitled:

“The Broken Chain”
"We little knew that morning that God was going to call your name. In life we loved you dearly; in death we do the same. It broke our hearts to lose you; you did not go alone; for part of us went with you the day God called you home. You left us peaceful memories, your love is still our guide, and though we cannot see you, you are always by our side. Our family chain is broken and nothing seems the same, but as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again."

Jimmy, can you close us with prayer.
This concludes the service at this time.

So, in light of selling the Trans Am, I sold it to someone who will take great care of it, fix it up and drive it like it needs to be driven.  In fact, this young man reminds me a lot of LT and maybe that's why it's so hard to let go, because I'm still clinging to the memories.

LT, my baby brother, I love you with all my heart and soul and miss you to the ends of Earth and back.  I am so thankful to have had you for a forever hold a special place inside my heart.  

No comments:

Post a Comment