My Brother’s Life Journey, Chapter 5


"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...

“Teacher Appreciation” featured photo. Place unknown. Probably a Kindergarten or Special Education teacher insturcting a student. According to the US Census Bureau Facts for Features, as of 2004, there were 6.2 million teachers in the US and the 71% of which were women. The national average for annual salary for public elementary and secondary school teachers was $44,700; With the highest average of $54,300 in California and the lowest of $31,300 in South Dakota. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We lived up on a hill with lots of trees surrounding the house. It was a great hill to go sledding as long as you didn’t run into those trees. A couple of times I took Al down on the back of my sled but he never did like it and seemed scared. He preferred to be in his room playing with his cars. Al played with his hot wheel cars far later than most kids, but he loved them and he was never asked to put them a way and grow up, which I am thankful for.

In the summertime Dad always made him trim the trees. Oh Al really hated this. I am not sure if he actually hated the trimming or if he hated the fact it was Dad telling him to do it. We were never allowed to ask questions. If we didn’t understand we could go to Mom if she was there or we just figured things out for ourselves.

For Al no matter what the project was he needed training longer than most of us. He would in the beginning trim around the trees but not close enough. So Dad would go out there and show him again by pointing to the trees and asking, do you see now what I am talking about? Now go back and redo them all.

Al would cry and Dad would walk back to the house shaking his head. Dad shaking his head was a common thing I saw clear up until his death. He never understood why us kids just didn’t get it the first time.

This is when Al learned to start cussing. I sometimes would go out and walk with him while he did the trimming for the second time and I learned some pretty choice words. I will never know where he learned them at that age because neither of us were allowed to hang around anyone that didn’t go to church.

I can remember when I wanted a friend to stay the night. Mom would ask, what’s their last name? If she recognized it as a bad family name I wasn’t allowed to be near them let alone have them spend the  night at our house.

I guess when I look at it Mom  she was prejudice. You were hung before judged if you had the wrong last name. I can remember this house that was vacated by people other than Caucasian. Mom would always say, don’t step in the grass or ever go in the house on your way home from school. They have bugs.

I laugh at it now because it sounds so silly to me. How did her mind work? I always blame it on her own upbringing and what she was taught. I didn’t get mad at her, I always listened to what she said, but I made my own judgements when I became an adult. Any human can get bugs and your last name means nothing to me. I will decide after I have taken the time to be with you whether we would make good friends or not.

By now Al had outgrown the special education classes and was in the high school. He really struggled. Fears that had been held at bay now resurfaced as he struggled with stuttering and learning disabilities.

I am not sure what Mom did but I know she spent a large amount of time in our school. A class opened up for students that were labeled back then as slow learners. Before that it was called mental retardation.

I always hated that wording. Even today when Al is down on himself he will sometimes call himself a retard. I jump on him quicker than you can blink an eye. I tell him in no way is he retarded. I explain that some things are just a little harder for him to learn.

He and I are both left-handed people. I always tell him how smart he and I. That we are the lucky ones because God only gave left-handed to special people. Then he would smile at me and the world was good once again.

The new school class was an ordinary class but a few special need students were placed in here. Not only was there a teacher but there were two teacher’s helpers too. I always told Mom she started a revolution for learning disabilities with whatever she had said to get this started.

Mom was never one to brag about herself. She worked as a manager for a big well-known heating company. She paid people’s bills when she learned that the customer was trying so hard but couldn’t pay the entire bill. She never did this with telling them who she was.

Mom even helped to open the first women’s shelter here in our town. It was for women and children who had been battered by their husbands. It is still running at high-capacity today unfortunately. I say this because I wish abuse of any kind would fall off the earth and never be heard of again. We learned, we conquered, and now we lay it to rest.

Al stayed in this class the entire year and we could start to see changes in his personality. He was feeling like he was cared about and that teachers understood him. He stayed in these high-school special classes until he graduated. We were all so proud of Al for graduating. He should have graduated in 1973 but instead he graduated in 1975, but hey, who cares, he made it!!

25 thoughts on “My Brother’s Life Journey, Chapter 5

  1. *hugs* your mom was amazing, paying people’s bills opening a shelter and getting al and others help. Please don’t let al think less of himself. I’m a leftie too and I think some lefties just don’t think the same way as other people. 🙂

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  2. It is evident by all of your recollections of Al and the way you write about him, how much you love him. (It already was evident to me but I have enjoyed reading these accounts of him through your words.) God bless you, Terry. Thank you for sharing about Al.

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  3. A beautiful … post again, filled with love and openness. This with be lucky to get the right teachers during school is so vital, it was the same for me .. but not on the same level as for Al. So fantastic to read about yours and Al’s growing up and it’s like can see you both .. while reading. You’re so talent., but it has to do with your passion, soul and heart … too.

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  4. Hallelujah Terry! It’s wonderful to see how much love you have for your brother, and I’m so glad that your mother fought for him to have special education classes in a time when children with special needs were often hidden and frowned upon and seldom helped. Both you and Al were blessed that the Lord brought her into your lives.

    God bless you,
    Cheryl

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  5. Kudos to Al! What a great accomplishment and who cares if it took a little longer than most. I’m confused on one thing–is this the same mother as in previous posts? I presume this was your step-mother, but she seemed so uncaring before. If the same woman, I’m glad she learned to care about Al and others. Maybe Al or you taught her that one!
    Hugs… A

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  6. Pingback: Al’s LIfe Journey, Chapter 6 | terry1954

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