Pat Brunson-Ware said goodbye to her son – Bertram Lenard Brunson – last Saturday (Aug. 11), singing a song in which the words "have a good time" seemed to be amplified.
For Brunson-Ware, the years have yielded some tough times since her son was maimed and critically injured (September, 1991) while in the custody of the Shelby County Sheriff's department. Mr. Brunson was 22 when he was hog-tied and beaten, living for over 20 years in a coma. He died Aug. 2.
In 1994, a civil rights violation lawsuit was won on the behalf of Mr. Brunson, who suffered anoxic brain damage from the excessive force. For 17 years, Shelia Diane Jeffries, his "second mom," was his private-duty sitter. She affectionately called him "Bobby."
A mother's memory
"Every since the age of three you have always wanted to be a man for me and just as you turned twenty-one I was sure that your man-life had just begun," Brunson-Ware wrote in the homegoing program. "But 40 days into twenty-two, oh my God what did 'they' do to you."
She recalled the "wonderful little boy" who fell in love with the kindergarten teacher at Prospect Elementary school, broke his arm playing little league football, set track records in Shelby Youth Sports, and kept a sketch pad handy.
Mr. Brunson graduated from Hamilton High School in 1987, and his mother noted how proud she was to see him take "the walk." He received higher education at The LeMoyne Owen College and State Technical Institute (now part of Southwest Tennessee Community College). He worked for the Racquet Club and as a skycap at Memphis International Airport.
The decision to seek nursing home care for Mr. Brunson was a difficult one for Brunson-Ware, who wanted to carry for him herself. She candidly shared her worry in the written program, describing the feelings of guilt.
"But even now I recall the words of Lois Jean Streeter telling me, '...don't let anyone make you feel guilty about placing Bert in a nursing home, you do what's best for your child.' I believe I did."
The hardest thing, however, was saying goodbye, Brunson-Ware wrote.
"I thank God for allowing us this time together."
He leaves his parents Patricia Brunson-Ware (Lionel) and John L. Brunson (Diane); three sisters, Shavetres Beamer, Ashley Mays and Tierrani Brunson; grandparents, the Rev. Angus Brunson Sr. and Jo Willie Brunson, Annie Mae Hill, Sylvester and Georgia Powell; his uncles, Angus Brunson Jr. (Ann) and Morris Brown, an aunt, Gloria Brunson-Barber.
The homegoing celebration was held at Christ Missionary Baptist Church, 480 South Parkway East, where the eulogy was delivered by the Rev. Gina M. Stewart, the host pastor.
Harrison's Funeral Home, Inc., Orange Mound Chapel, had charge, with burial in Elmwood Cemetery.