Nikki Sixx and the sister he never knew

Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue

Nikki Sixx

Every time I run across another story about a family with a long-lost member who was institutionalized, I hear the same themes and emotions expressed — shame, guilt, fear, pain, secrecy, regret.

Thanks to my friend Janet Kilgore, an outstanding writer, editor and humorist, I have found another story. And this one is from a most unlikely source.

Nikki Sixx, of the heavy metal band Motley Crue, reveals in his book This is Gonna Hurt: Music, Photography and Life that he had a sister who was born with Down Syndrome. Lisa, who was also blind and almost completely deaf, was sent to an institution at an early age. Nikki has no memory of ever seeing her.

Mom, where’s Lisa?

Sixx says when he asked his mother about Lisa, she said Lisa got too upset when the family tried to visit her at the institution.

“She was comfortable there, with people who cared for her, and seeing us would ruin everything,” he quotes his mother as saying. She told him that Lisa was born in the ‘60s and things were different then. There was no way for her to take care of a disabled child.

“I have always felt guilty that I didn’t think of Lisa very often when I was growing up,” Sixx says. “I went through life just accepting the situation.”

I don’t understand this

After Sixx became an adult, he asked his mother how to contact Lisa. “I want to go see her. Please…I don’t understand any of this and I need to…”

Sixx called the facility where Lisa lived and talked to a staff person, who told him that her greatest pleasure was sitting in her wheelchair and listening to the local rock station. Because she was almost deaf, the volume had to be really loud. “That made me smile.”

The problem with procrastinating

Sixx called the home several times to check on his sister, but he never went to see her. Several years later, she died.

“The problem with procrastinating is that sometimes, it bites you in the ass,” he writes. “I got busy, I went on tour, I went through a divorce and I lost connection to that feeling that I had to make Lisa’s life right. And now she was dead.

“I have had to forgive myself for a lot of things in my life, but this was the hardest.”