My wife and I sometimes debate the term “untimely death.” She thinks death is, by nature, untimely, but I believe it’s especially awful when it happens to young people. My brother Albert was one of them, taken from our family at seventeen while crossing the street on a cold, windy night in 1975. I write about his passing and its devastating impact on our family and friends for the first time in my new memoir, The Bastard of Beverly Hills.
And because Albert was such a terrific person and kind soul, the uncomfortable reality I dealt with during my life was growing up in his shadow, even carrying his name as my middle one. It felt like an anchor, tying me to a past that I knew very little of and had no control over.
Since learning of my adoption some ten years ago, I’ve come to embrace being named after Albert and have dedicated my new book partly to him. But this journey to distinguish my life from his under our roof has been a difficult one.
My brother, who died a year before I was born, was canonized like a Catholic saint in our home. Portraits of him in sterling silver frames, watching me with his commanding eyes, were displayed in every room. He was everything I wasn’t—a chess champion, star student, and cotillion dancer, loved by all.From The Bastard of Beverly Hills
What made Albert’s tragedy even more surreal was that the character Albert Ingalls on the hit television show Little House on the Prairie was named after my brother. Every time I watched that show, it made me think of him. I could not seem to escape his legacy, but my book has finally put all of that struggle to rest. If you know somebody grappling with the same kind of guilt-related issue, I encourage you to tell them about this book.
When Albert died, my mother was obviously distraught, as any loving mother would be, and my adoption came about as a result of his death. You’ll have to read my memoir for the full story and learn about the mystery behind it all, but aside from my quest to find my own voice, I felt I needed to bring Albert back to life for a little while in order for my family to heal. That’s why I included his death in this memoir.
Rest in peace, my brother.
RAFAEL MOSCATEL is the author of the best-selling business book series Tomorrow’s Jobs Today and director of The Little Girl with the Big Voice, a critically acclaimed documentary. His third book, The Bastard of Beverly Hills, a memoir about hope, forgiveness, and redemption, will be published in 2023.