Seeing Al today at the facility brought old memories for him and none for me. When I walked down the long haul I could see him immediately at the dining table. He looked exactly like I never wished him to look. A stare across his face, head bent down and frozen somewhere in time.
When I approached his table he barely looked up at me. Once I got our food settled that is when he began to cry. I asked his nurse how he had been all morning, and of course I already knew she would say, fine, just fine, no problems.
I wanted to run a way but I cemented myself to the chair. I was feeling like I am the one who makes him cry. I am family and this brings back memories for him. He was back in time. While I was living a married life, I do remember Al getting the opportunity to go down to Indianapolis, Indiana to the big Memorial Day races.
I have been told by him several times in the past about the fun he had going to these. When our Uncle Jim was still alive, he had as much patience with Al as our Granddad did. There was always a bond between these two men and Al.
I believe in my heart that these two men saw clearly that our own Father was not being the best he could with Al. They took many times and fit Al into their fun schedules.
Today, Al cried the two hours I was there. He spoke of the race, but he could remember very little of it. What I remember from earlier years of him telling me about it; is that they chattered all the way down to Indy, a three-hour trip. They left at 4:30am, and Al always says, he didn’t have a problem getting up that early, it was worth it.
They filled up on hot dogs and sodas. They saw wrecks. Al told me of the speeds of the cars and who was driving what cars. Today all he could remember is that he went with Uncle Jim. It broke my heart, it really did.
There was a time when Uncle Jim and his wife moved to Florida. They went there because one of their children had Cystic Fibrosis. The air was to be better for him. Although Al had never gone anywhere alone, after graduation of high school, Uncle Jim arranged through the airlines for Al to come down for a visit.
All arrangements had been made with the stewards and gate crew to keep a good eye out on Al without Al realizing it. He made the trip with flying colors. He always said he had a good time.
For years life seemed to be monotone for our family. I was raising mine and Al remained at home. He helped in the gardens in the summer, shoveled snow in the winters. He worked from job to job and then finally landed a job where he worked for nine years before he had his heart attack.
Al and Dad kept their distance or when they were together it was pure hell. Dad would yell and scream and threaten. Al’s face would turn beet red and his fist doubled up, his body tense and ready to attack.
Nothing ever changed. Different family members and friends tried so many times to help Dad see the damage he was doing to Al but Dad brushed them all off. I am going to add my own personal opinion at this point.
Our non-blood Grandma and Granddad and our Uncle Jim and his wife, were not directly related to us, but they were the best back in those days. They all spent great qualities of time with Al. Helping to nurture him and grow into a man. I used to hear from my Dad’s sister how she used to have to help take care of us when we were brought home from the kidnapping days.
I will call her T. T said that she used to give me a bath quite often. I don’t know how old she was, but evidently a teen. She told me of the day she scalded me and how bad she felt about it. I am sure it did bother her and I hoped she moved past that. I never remember words of anyone speaking about the care Al got. The only times I can recall any talk about Al is when he had to be taken to the Children’s Hospital for rickets and undernourished.
When I became a teen I was alert enough to realize that there is a word called fake. You can have family members. They can say all sorts of nice things, but when you aren’t in the room, you can eavesdrop in on the truth.
Cousins used to laugh at Al. He was mildly mentally handicapped. He wanted to fit in. He wanted to laugh with others, speak and carry on with everyone.Usually, the only one laughing out of innocence was Al. The others were laughing at him. It always hurt my feelings because I believed that we were all family, and this was a bad behavior. I noticed that Al was left out of a lot of things.
When there were reunions or family dinners, Al was placed at the kids tables. When everyone was playing Badminton, or croquet, Al was not asked. Card games, he was in the room watching television. I always wondered if he realized he was being left out.
I sure wish I could put a photo up of my brother from early days, but I have never seen even one tiny photo of him. The ones I post on here for you to see, look to me like he is maybe five. I wonder why no photos were taken or if they were where are they.
Before our real grandmother passed she handed out all her photos. Anything that had to do with our family I got the pictures, but none of Al. I have my baby picture but I gave it to my daughter. Maybe we didn’t really exist in people’s minds until my Dad and Stepmom got married. Maybe we were the kids who were in the way, or the two that were from a broken home, or maybe the two who were kidnapped. Something happened. Photos show pride and there are no photos of Al or me except the one baby picture of me until after my new Mom came into our lives.