Thursday, August 20, 2015

Character of the week: Byron from Imperfect and Impeccable

He is a man who is as big in spirit as he is in size. There is nothing small about Byron Whetherby.

Byron's story starts out when his father walks out upon learning that his mother is pregnant with him and his twin sister, Alex.

His mother struggles greatly to give them all that she can. She has no formal education, though. Desperate to give her children a good life, Mary does the unthinkable (she becomes a prostitute).

Byron never had a strong man or fatherly figure in his life. He knew life was hard for his mother, and he greatly appreciated her and her sacrifices.

As he and Alex grew, he watched his sister fall into the pit of addiction. Drinking, drugs - Alex's inability to cope only added stress to the family. When Mary accidentally becomes pregnant by a John, Alex plummets even further.

Feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders, Byron stepped up. He took care of Candace. He took care of the house. He even took care of Alex as best he could. Life for Byron was anything but easy. He had tremendous responsibilities that no child should have to shoulder. For as young as he was, he knew there was no one else to do what was needed. Despite lacking a father, he fully understood what it meant to be a man.

In high school, Byron began to work for a contractor. It wasn't glamorous, but it helped to pay their bills. 

Day in and day out, Byron labored. He did grunt work. He labored to take care of Candace. Alex's addictions taxed him greatly. He worked diligently to help his mother and his family. He never complained. He couldn't complain. No one else was going to do it, so he had to. Life didn't give him opportunities to whine. He did what was needed without ever uttering a single complaint. That personality trait stayed with him throughout his life.

By the age of 21, Alex had stayed sober for 3 months. Byron saved enough money to send Alex to school to become a paralegal. There was one condition, though. Alex would have to allow him to check her house at any moment for alcohol, and she was required to call him daily as a check-in. She needed to prove that she took her sobriety seriously. He refused to pay for schooling if she was only going to throw it away. He loved his sister, and he wanted to help her. He knew that part of helping her included some tough love.

Alex agreed. She went to school and had turned her life around tremendously.

Just as she began to close in on graduation, their mother, Mary, was in a horrific car accident.

Once again, Byron felt the weight of the world on his shoulders. If Mary didn't pull through, Alex and Candace would both rely on him completely. Being the strong man he was, Byron gathered his sisters, and their church all around Mary. People helped. People donated. People prayed. It was a long, difficult road, but Mary began to improve.

It was soon clear that Mary needed more help than what any of the kids could give her. Finally in a place to give back to the family, Alex stood up and payed for their mother's care at the facility.

Byron, at this point, owned his own contracting company. He worked just as diligently as he did in high school. He was a successful business owner thanks to his tenacity and persistence.

His life wasn't necessarily easy, but he remained grateful for all that he had.

He still watched over both of his sisters very closely. When Alex began dating a white girl named Carol, Byron was anything but pleased. He worried about Alex's sobriety. He worried about her facing discrimination as a black woman, a lesbian, and now part of an interracial couple.

As time went on, Carol and Byron were able to come to good terms, and she became the newest member of their family.

Speaking of family, at his mother's facility, there was a beautiful young nurse named Erin. Erin was Asian. Her jet black hair and porcelain skin were enchanting. She had a beautiful smile, and an adorable little body. Byron was quite smitten with her. But he didn't think a smart girl like her would have any interest in a grunt like him. He kept his fondness for her a secret for years.

When Mary passed years later, Byron invited Erin to her memorial service. It was unlike anything she had ever experienced before. More importantly, it gave Byron the opportunity to forge a new, different kind of relationship with her.

Byron and Erin were an unusual pair, but their relationship was ideal. While finally opening his heart to Erin, he was also closing his heart off from Carol when he learned that both she and Alex had AIDS, though.

His world came crumbling down upon hearing the bad news. He was hurt, angry, and scared. He and his family had lost so much, and now he was losing his twin. He couldn't deal.

He and Alex had many conversations about Carol, their health, and the situation. After some time, he warily came around.

 Byron was suddenly learning how to balance work, his family, and romance. It was all very new and foreign to him, but he managed to make it all work. So well so that he and Erin eventually married.

Erin brought him the stability and logic he so desperately wanted and needed in his life. She was strong - a rock upon which he could lean. She was gentle. She taught him love, patience, and understanding. With her and his sisters, Byron's family was complete.
When Alex suddenly dies, Byron loses it. Not even Erin or Candace to bring him any kind of solace. His anger and pain were indescribable. As things play out, his perspective changes. Carol is no longer the bad guy. Instead, she is his final connection to Alex, and he can't lose that. Losing both her and Alex was far too great for him. He couldn't imagine his life without either of them.

Life changes, and Byron feels completely unable to cope. He is broken. Only the wisdom and strength of Candace can guide him through his darkest of days.

Byron is a man who is bigger than life itself. He is complex, and has many layers. He is the big brother we all want.

Favorite quote from Byron: “Carol, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I gave you flack about being a white girl the first time I met you. I’m sorry for all the hurtful things I said to you when you told us you and Alex had AIDS. I’m sorry for how poorly I treated you after Alex died. I’m just so sorry for all of it.”
     “All of my life, I always had to watch out for Alex. She was my twin, but we were so different. I
had to protect her. I thought I was protecting her when you came around. I couldn’t see that you
were protecting her far better than I ever could. I see that now, though. I am so sorry.”

Happy reading!

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