Friday, 06 July 2012
We have had our four year old granddaughter to stay just last night and today. She has now been returned to her parents and I am in reflective mood. She is intelligent very vocal and assuredly neuro-typical. We have had her for just one day and I am exhausted, how anyone manages to care for a child with autism let alone several I cannot imagine. If one intelligent and precocious child is such hard work to bring up a mixed family perhaps with even only one autistic child must present incredible challenges to parents and I am filled with admiration for those parents. It occurs to me that it must also present challenges to the brothers and sisters of the autistic child. I have been thinking a lot about my brother lately which is unlike me I usually think about people I can see but I was reminded of him when doing an interview. I don’t suppose my brother likes me very much, I certainly didn’t give him much cause to when we were children. I used to climb on top of the airing cupboard and read unconcerned by the shouts coming from below of, “Rory, please play with me Rory!”. Looking back it stirs my sense of injustice and makes me sad but then I didn’t really care, I realise now I was somewhat callous. I used to expect him to do things for me and was stunned when – after having sent him repeatedly to find books for me so I didn’t have to get out of my warm bed – he dropped the book he was holding and said, “I don’t have to do this!” He never did again.While we resemble each other we are very different and I quite envy him. Jeremy has always been good at virtually everything he does. He was good at sports – particularly cricket – I was an adult before I became moderately good at catching, thanks to Werner Erhard. He has a natural facility with people and built a career in social work, I can walk past my daughter and not recognise her. I was very impressed at his first wedding a number of his deaf clients came and he had someone signing the service to them.Before I started this I had a look for an old Amiga Format that my brother had a piece in about how to make dropped capitals in Pagemaker. I was very proud of him so I’m quite upset at having lost the magazine. These days he uses a Mac and uses it well to process photos. For years he has been keen on SLR photography, he is good and took the photos at my daughter’s wedding. At University he always had enough money to buy lenses largely because he understood how to manage his credit cards. It was years before I had a credit card and I still have problems handling my financial affairs. Over the years he has risen to senior management in social work, I am afraid I’m not that organised so it’s just as well I am not ambitious which means after over thirty years of employment I am where I started on the employment ladder – at the bottom.I think I am most envious of my brother’s talent for gardening. Actually I suspect I am more envious of the comparatively dryer English weather. He used to have a beautiful garden, he even built his own summer-house. I don’t know if he has a garden now, I haven’t seen him for years. Now I think about it I suppose I could call him.I think in many ways my brother is very much the sort of person I would like to have been. Popular and sociable, confident and competent, in many ways very successful, in many ways an inspiration to me but I would not swap my life for his. Yes it’s true that despite being ridiculously intelligent I have little to flaunt by way of material or social success but my wife and I have been together for over thirty years and have two wonderful granddaughters. I don’t go hungry, I lack for nothing and I thoroughly enjoy my life but sometimes I look at him and I wonder what might have been.
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