Neil is the baby of the Hope family, the fifth kid, the fourth son. Both his parents were already alcoholics when he was born September 24, 1972, in Toronto. He figures it probably wasn't long after when his dad left home for the last time.
As a result, he went to six or seven different schools and grew up all over Toronto - in the east end in the Gerrard/Pape area, across the street from the headquarters of a motorcycle club, and out in the west end, down by the Lakeshore strip in Etobicoke, "where all the drunks are."
That's his description. He laughs when he says it.
But it's not a real laugh, not natural. It's hollow and it sounds bitter.
Neil's face flushes and he frowns. "I hate country music now because that's what my mom listened to. I just get shivers when I hear a country and western song." Because it also him remember when the police car and the ambulance pulled up in front of their house because his mother had slit her wrists.
Neil's dad died in 1987. He died of cirrhosis, a disease of the liver. The booze killed him.
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