My Brother’s Life Journey Chapter 7
After Al graduated I was out of the picture off and on. I had been married and lived in Germany…
My Brother’s Life Journey Chapter 7
After Al graduated I was out of the picture off and on. I had been married and lived in Germany…
After Al graduated I was out of the picture off and on. I had been married and lived in Germany for a year. I was expecting my first child. So thoughts drifted in and out of my family life and my new family to be.
When I came home to the States Al had a number of jobs. This is when a new set of problems started. Al had money of his own. A real paycheck that he wished to spend how ever he wanted.
But life doesn’t work this way. We have bills and most of us can not take our money and spend it entirely in one week. Al didn’t understand this. His thoughts were, he made the money, therefore he could spend it as he wished.
He had a car payment and auto insurance. I admit life was much easier when Mom was around. She felt bad for Al because he didn’t make too much money for his hard labor. She often helped hm and swore him to secrecy.
Even with Al’s mental issues he understood that this secret was to his benefit so he was always quiet about it. Al went to several jobs for quite a few years. He worked in a factory but he got fired. He was too friendly with the ladies and he would smile big at them. Often he would tell them they were pretty. These women did not like this and thought he was weird so they reported him and he would be fired.
This went on at a few jobs like this. He worked in egg manufacturing where he had the dirtiest job of all. He had to clean up at the end of the day the mess of cracked and spilled eggs from the machines and the floors.
I always felt bad for him. He worked very hard but because he was mentally challenged his pay was much less, right at the minimum wage. I thought it was unfair but the companies always said the same thing. We can’t get the same production out of him as we can the others.
Some of the other jobs he had he just plain talked to much. He has always been a social butterfly and will speak to anyone who looks his way. He is still like this today if he is having a good day.
I think Mom got tired of all the jobs so she talked to our Aunt and Uncle. They owned a meat market. Meat was brought in and butchered and packaged up. Once again, in my opinion, Al got the crap job.
I won’t say it killed him but gosh darn, it was a hard job they gave him. He was responsible for taking those half beefs off the racks in the coolers and bringing them out for butchering. Do you have any idea how much one of those weigh? My Dad told me once that one half weighed 1000 pounds. That is a lot of weight for one person. Many times I watched him do this.
For high season work when deer were bring processed I would work there helping to wrap the finished product. My job was much easier than Al’s and I made more money than he did. I could go on and on about how it isn’t fair to under pay a mentally challenged or disabled adult, but I won’t. It would take me another chapter.
One day the small family business closed and Al was out of a job. Mom got Al involved with a company that helped to hire and house disabled adults. The first thing the company did, and I will call them C.C. for short was to do a month-long load of paperwork.
After this was completed they moved him into an apartment living situation. It was run through C.C. and Al was given the title of Client from then on out. He lived in his hometown with three other gentleman.
They found him a job a half an hour a way. It was a veal farm. I am not sure what he actually did, but I imagine anything that he was asked to in the barns. He got very homesick.
He was too far a way from home. He missed his own bedroom but Mom urged him to keep trying it. She was sure he would adjust and learn to love the freedom he was allowed. Al never learned to cook. He is deathly afraid of fire and so never wanted to learn to use the stove.
I believe the way it was set up is that each of the four guys had special knowledge of one thing or another. When you put this all together, you had a house that was clean and the clients were fed.
One time Mom paid a visit to Al and she went into shock when she was let in by one of the guys. There was Al and a female client from another C.C. apartment sitting on the couch together. They were holding hands and watching a pornographic movie on the VCR machine.
Mom didn’t believe in this at all. Even at home when I lived there I saw Mom one time in her slip. Walking around half-dressed was not allowed nor proper in our home. Cussing was not allowed either. Mom was a God-fearing woman and very strict in this area with us kids. I remember one time Mom was so mad at Dad that she said shit.
I thought I would die laughing when I heard her. What a naughty word that was. Mom’s excuse was, he just makes me so darn mad. I shouldn’t have said it and make sure you don’t say it either.
At this age, I had definitely already said it before but I wasn’t going to tell her. Well, she told Al to get up and get in the car. She took what she could take on that trip and took him home. She went back and got the rest of his things and then when she got home she made the phone call.
I saw my son in a position that may lead to sexual encounters and he was watching that sex stuff on his VCR. I’m sorry, he can’t live there anymore. You don’t watch him good enough. I have him home now. I will call tomorrow and make an appointment to see what other options we have.
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!!
I was surfing my Facebook, and came across this saying someone had posted. I stopped and stared at it, and then reread it a couple of times.
I got excited at the prospect that I, me, only me, can make anything happen if I, me, and only me, believe!
This gave me a few moments to reflect back on my life and go over my to do and wish list.
When I was in high school, I had a dream and a plan. I was going to go to college for four years right after graduation and become a physical therapist.
Then I changed it later, and decided that I wanted to be a therapist for troubled teens.
Instead of doing these, I chose the other route, and got married and started a family. Now many years later, after raising my family, the best I knew how, I realize that I have believed in me. I have followed my dream. I am helping others.
I have been a CNA and a Pharmacy Technician, playing both roles for the past 22 years. I have worked with many types of patients, making them comfortable, and I have also helped patients feel better by getting their medications ready for them.
For five years after this, I did private care. I took care of some lovely people, some husband and wife couples, others whose families worked, and needed their loved ones cared for. I was their therapist in some ways. I was a good listener, and I spent quality time with them. I also had my name put on the hospice list in our town, and got a few calls to help care for one who was at their end of life. This was the most challenging and rewarding job I have ever had. It brought me to a different level of humanity. It drew me into the personal lives of their families. It helped me to understand and see first hand how a body prepares for leaving this earth. It is very emotional and your love flows from within straight to their souls.
After leaving hospice, I took care of my own father, who suffered from bone cancer for one year. I was not only his therapist, I was his right hand lady. I did everything for him, except take away his illness. As I laid beside him on his bed, holding his hand, telling him how much I loved him and how much I was going to miss him, I had to add also, that I knew and understood why he had to leave me. I told him he would be brand new with no more pains, and to give mom a hug and kiss for me. He died holding my hand a few moments later.
After that chapter of my life was over, I immediately started caring for Al. I have now been caring for him five years this December. For him I have also been his therapist, listening to all he says. I am also his teacher, guiding him hopefully in the right direction. I am his nurse, placing a bandage over his heart. drying his tears with my words, and offering him comfort from the Bible. I use examples of others to help him remain strong. I give all that I am able to give.
He may be mentally challenged, and he may not understand all that is being said to him. He may have moments of dementia, but that only happens in the present world, the past world is very keen to him. Mental challenge is not what people think. It varies in different degrees of it. When someone is mentally impaired, there is usually an area where they are even smarter than I am. God did something special when he created these people. He made them so that they touch our hearts, in ways no others can.
So today, as I look back, I may not have received that four-year college degree. I may not have that
certificate hanging on a wall in an office somewhere, but I have more than this. I have years of experience with the human life, learning to love what we do not call normal. I have learned to be a good listener, and to only offer advice when asked.
I have been given the desire to be a helper. This is who God has made. Me, a human being, capable of loving, feeling, being able to touch others lives, capable of being hurt.
I am happy that even though I didn’t realize it until this very moment, I have followed God’s path for me, and no matter what others think of my crazy thoughts and ways, I know God is proud of me.
I have never spoke so open as I am going to on this blog. All hell has broken loose here at home. The cake that I made? A big waste of time.
Al refuses to change his thinking with things he can no longer do. I have told him so many times, that I can not even remember, that when he gets something out of the refrigerator to drink, he now has to use both hands. He refuses. He doesn’t want to admit he has Parkinson’s. He also refuses my help to get the drinks for him.
Well, tonight at supper, which I am now not eating, and he is snotting and tearing in his plate, spilled the pitcher of lemonade. Why? Because he only used one hand. The hand is so weak, and the tremors are so bad, he can hardly do it with two, but at least he can accomplish pouring his own drink.
I let Al do this, because it is the last thing that he can still handle with meal preparation. I do not want to have to take it away from him until I am forced to.
He got in his tear mode instantly. There is no talking to him. He isn’t listening to me. All I am hearing is he is a failure, he is dumb, he can’t do anything right. He asked me to get a gun and shoot him, shoot him dead.
My head exploded, my neck is hurting along with my shoulders. I had to leave the kitchen and sit at my computer chair where I can see him. He is telling me he wants the words stupid, retarded, and dumbass on his tombstone.
I have tried to talk to him, to deter his thinking to somewhere else. He started hitting himself when I continued to try to talk, so I walked away, before I, myself have a stroke.
I am sorry, I have lost my trane of thought. He could not eat the chicken thigh that I had prepared in the crock pot for him. I had to take the chicken and his potato and put it in the blender and puree it.
He is still crying. The things he says disturb me. I have no idea on what anyone could possible want to teach me by forcing me to listen to someone who is talking so negatively about his life and death. There is nothing to be learned from this.
I am learning that I am wasting my time to some point. Making him a pretty cake should now be tossed in the trash in my eyes. The hopes that I had of what it could do for him, are gone. I can not keep trying, I feel. Not because I don’t want to, but it does not work.
I am not saying that I don’t understand his frustrations with Parkinson’s, because I do, but I can not deal with his bad talk about wanting to die. I want to scream at him. If you want to die, then die! I am tired of trying to save your life. I am tired of trying to make smiles happen for you.
What do you think I sound like? A mad woman who has flipped out? Someone who does no longer care. I care, this is the problem, I care.
I look up at the ceiling of our home, as he is now telling me that I want him gone, I want him dead. I want to live here by myself, and while he is going on , I am pleading, no begging God to stop this. Lord, I don’t want to be tested anymore. Lord, I love you, what else do you want from me? I don’t know if I am strong enough to even do what you could possibly still want. I take care of Al. I go out of my way to keep him as peaceful as I can Lord, but he is not co-operating, because he doesn’t want to live.
I can not even cry, but it is alright. Al is crying enough for the two of us. I wish I had someone to come here and watch him for a while. I need to be by myself.
I only wrote this to help myself. I am selfish right now. If I don’t tell someone, I am going to crack up.
He has stopped eating, and he doesn’t even want my cake. I quit. He left his supper set.
He wants to die, and I want him to live.
I wish I would have become a brain surgeon, yes a brain surgeon! I would understand how the brain works much better than I do now. If I didn’t get it or understand it, I could go in and make changes. LOL. I am just here to blog tonight, only because I am amazed at how the brain works!
I blogged earlier today, asking for help for my brother and me. Without going further with the same blog from today, I want to comment on how amazed I always am at Al’s brain.
I stated earlier on how I often wonder if he understands and comprehends what I am saying to him as we talk about God and Satan. Sometimes as I leave his bedroom, I am the one more confused.
Tonight, he is in a good mood. The tears dried up from last night and this morning, and he is back to laughing at the animal commercials and people on the television. He is watching Jeopardy now. I am minding my own business, but I can hear him right behind me.
To me this game is beyond me. It is smarter than I am and I do not like knowing that I am dumber than I thought! LOL. On the other hand, Al, loves this show and in most days, he looks forward to it. I am amazed. The tough questions are being asked and the players sometimes know them and sometimes draw a blank, and in the background I hear Al peeling off the answers quite often, and hearing from Alex, yes, you are correct. Al will sit here and laugh, telling the television, you thought you had me on that didn’t you Alex, you can’t fool me, I knew the answer! How can this be?
Did we not eat the same breakfast cereals each morning? Did mom put something extra in his vitamins that I didn’t get? You know, he is smarter than I am. His memory, although he has dementia, is much better than mine, and yet I can not seem to get across to him about Satan being mean and God being good.
It just amazes me, the brain and how it works. The cells making all the right connections to the right areas, and although a big seizure has destroyed many of his cells, he is still so smart. Doctors have determined years ago that he is mentally challenged. Mental challenge does not affect the whole brain, just parts of it. I have worked with mentally challenged people before and I have always noticed that there are areas that they shine brighter in than others.
I hate labels. Genius, mentally challenged, disabled, weird, different, odd. The only way my brain can define this, is we all have stronger areas in our brains that seem to outshine more than other areas.To me, the only correct label here is unique. We are all human beings with brains, but each of us unique.
Well, like I said, I wish I was a brain surgeon, because I would be able to change things in my own head. I would make the change that would allow me to understand more of what is being said. I would be able to completely “get it” when Al starts in on his negativity. I would know the reasoning behind it, and with a quick thought, I would fix it.
Remember the old- time scary movie, Brains? This is how I am feeling now. Brains, brains, I want more brains! LOL