Yesterday my sister and I headed over to see my brother Bill for dinner. Bill is autistic and likes his meals at the same time every day, so we made sure we had enough time to pick up barbequed yumminess and get to his house by 5:30pm. When we got there, Bill was in great spirits. He wasn’t making those intense high-pitched sounds that mean he’s frustrated or annoyed. His face was clear of raw patches, so he hadn’t been picking at it as he sometimes obsessively does.
Eyes clear and bright, smile firing off at a thousands watts…there he was, working his way through a barbequed chicken as if he were in a race against the clock to win a million trillion dollars.
Healthy…perfectly imperfect…and happy.
Almost a year ago, my brother jumped out of a moving van in heavy traffic.
We still don’t know why…he’s aphasic and lives very much in the moment, so we probably never will…but that incident has changed a lot about our visits with him. My sister and I no longer feel comfortable driving him…our fear over his safety is only heightened by the fact that we don’t know why he jumped out of the van so we don’t know how to prevent it from happening again. And my nerves were bad before spending several hours in a hospital holding his hand while doctors and nurses marveled over his lack of serious injury.
Driving…or rather, being driven (trust a bitch, you do not want him behind the wheel...wink)…is one of my brother’s favorite things. But my guilt over not taking him out in the car is tempered by my concern for his safety and my personal anxiety level. He has regular outings with staff from his residential placement facility…he goes out with our family friends…but I’m just not ready yet and I’ve given myself permission to not drive him about until I am ready.
Anyhoo, we had a nice dinner with Bill. He ate and we enjoyed watching his eat. Lawd knows he loves food in general and barbeque in particular. And Bill also adores soda pop. He’s only allowed soda pop as a treat for health reasons and he now approaches an ice cold glass of cola like this bitch approaches a sometimes food dish of dulce de leche ice cream. Before his jumping out of the van accident we used to drive to a local convenience store where he could pick out his favorite pop and some chips before we’d drive through our childhood neighborhood then return to his home. Now, we bring soda pop and snacks with us to his house. We’ve all adjusted to the change…and Bill doesn’t seem to mind as long as he gets his pop…but yesterday we were told that, due to some roommate drama that did not involve Bill, soda pop was no longer allowed in the house.
Shit, shit, shit and another shit.
Throughout dinner he asked repeatedly for the soda pop he knew we had brought with us and I sat there wondering how I could respect the house rules and still give him his treat. We had the pop in the car but, since he wasn’t allowed to bring the pop into the house, we’d have to give it to him outside. After getting the okay from staff we made our way outside and I internally fretted that Bill would get upset by being outside next to our car but not getting to go for a drive.
But he didn’t get upset, thank the gods.
He carefully poured his soda pop into his cup and took small…damn near elegant…sips.
He spun around the driveway and sang some song of his own creation, filling the air with the soundtrack of absolute joy.
Off in the distance a storm was brewing…a clear line between the peace of the moment and the disturbance that could come. I listened to Bill’s music and laughter while watching the clouds fold into each other, heavy with rain and hail and drama, and thought them a clear message from nature.
As Bill paused and sipped soda pop with great concentration from his cup…
We’re lucky if we can see a storm coming,
...twirling and singing songs in the key of cola…
if we can prepare and prevent damage or pain or upset.
Laughing a laugh so sweet it brings tears to my eyes…
But balance comes when we can dance in the moment knowing that the storm may just as likely pass us by.
...followed by a loud burp before a final sip of cola…a hug for both of us and a kiss and a bye-bye wave…then off like a flash back in to the house.
As my sister and I drove away I couldn’t help but savor that good…just solid good.
You feel me?
There we were, our father’s children...Sonny’s kids…grown ass people enjoying a Saturday evening together.
Healthy…so perfectly imperfect…happy even though we know that the storms will not always pass us by.
Our father’s legacy, bless his soul.
And may he keep on keeping it real in peace.
Happy father's day...