In God’s Arms – Part 1 (Jul-Aug 2002)

By Matt Dabbs

By Angie Wilhite
July-August 2002

Who was inside my brother’s body?

In May of 1989, 2001, I received an alarming phone call from my brother, Greg. He told me his body had been stricken with an illness that would probably lead to his death. Greg pleaded with me not to tell Mom. He didn’t want her to worry. But, I had to share the news with her, as bad as it was. She was his mother. Greg had known about his disease since 1985. He had carried the awful burden all alone. He had tried to save us from worry.

He must have suffered indescribable anguish over the years. During that four-year period, Greg had taken extravagant vacations. He built continually on his five-bedroom home during his free hours. Greg spent a large portion of his day working in his landscape business. It wasn’t unusual for him to put in a sixteen or eighteen hour day. He had less and less time for social contacts of any kind. In my mind, I tried to understand my brother’s way of life. I couldn’t comprehend why he did the kinds of things he did. Now, his life was becoming very clear to me.

A few weeks later, Greg lay in the hospital. He had horrible sores on his throat causing him unbearable pain. He was unable to eat and he had lost forty pounds. Greg’s mind was experiencing problems. His brain was “short-circuiting”. He was unable to reason or understand simple thoughts. Who was inside my brother’s body? This was not the same person I grew up with. How could so much happen to one person in such a short time?

Greg was released from the hospital within a week. He became extremely restless. He slept and ate very little. He was constantly moving from one project to the next. His thoughts were unclear and very confusing. He experienced feelings of grandeur. At one point, Greg thought he had made three million dollars in three weeks. He purchased a ticket to California. He was planning to appear on the “Johnny Carson Show.” He was in flight over New Mexico before we found out what he was doing. We contacted the police and asked them to try to locate him. Several thoughts raced through my head. Would he arrive in California and forget who he was or why he was there? Would he get lost and turn up on the missing persons’ list? Would he be arrested and locked up? I knew these were all possibilities. After hours of nervously waiting, we received a phone call from Greg. We talked him into flying back home the following morning.

My dad, mom and I planned to meet Greg at the airport. We were going to try to convince him he needed to get help. The task turned out to be an impossible one. Greg walked briskly off of the airplane. He talked nonstop and didn’t make a lot of sense. He was convinced he was not “sick” and we didn’t know what we were talking about.

Driving home from the airport, Greg pulled into a car dealership. He was planning to buy a candy apple Porsche. Fortunately, I was able to talk to the dealer and encourage him to stall my brother for a few hours. I convinced the dealer my brother really didn’t know what he was doing.

The following day was the Tulsa Home Garden Tour. One of my Greg’s homes was featured. However, the home wasn’t near ready. Due to Greg’s illness, the landscaping was never completed. Greg was too “sick” to realize it. Greg had rented a limousine to take my mom, grandma and aunt to see his featured home. Upon arriving at the house, Greg said, “You know why the police are here, don’t you? I invited President Bush and Reagan to see my home.” Greg had no idea the police were there to pick him up. The clients Greg worked for had asked the police to come. They knew Greg was sick and they wanted him to get help. The officers came over to Greg and asked him to get into the police car. Greg kindly consented and asked if someone would take his mother up to the house so she wouldn’t have to watch the police take him away.

Greg was taken first to a temporary hospital in Tulsa. When my mom arrived to see him, his six foot 5 inch frame was curled up in a little ball in the corner of the room. He looked up at my mother and said, “I’m sorry.” He was then taken to Vinita State Hospital.

September 1: Visiting my brother in the mental hospital

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About...

This author published 1598 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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