I’ve been thinking a lot about a wonderful friend of mine and I’d like to tell you a bit about him. I always think of J more this time of year than any other. We see each other a lot during the spring and summer. During the winter he and his family are busy with school and work and the days are short. J doesn’t like driving at night, neither do I actually, especially now that my older eyes play tricks on me. I remember one time when we had to drive after dark, a bunch of us were stuck at J’s brother’s baseball game later than usual. We all divided up into various cars and J decided to come with me. I had to put the overhead light on for him and that got us pulled over by Highway Patrol, it is a bit distracting to drive with lights on inside the car. Luckily the officer was immediately soothed by J’s explanation.
J is an artist. During the winter he faxes me wonderful little drawings to let me know he’s thinking of me. When we’re together he loves to encourage me to draw. He’s the only person who can. I am terrible at it. We once did an exercise where everybody drew a picture of the animal they were most like, there was a list of animals and their attributes and I chose a bear. In my attempts to make the bear’s legs full and fuzzy I created what looked like a tooth with a smiling head. My nieces made fun of me and we all laughed at me and my bear but J was not amused. He disappeared for a bit and when he returned he had with him a giant gold star that he glued to my picture. And he hugged me. A tiny, quick hug but a hug full of love and acceptance. Ordinarily J is not much of a hugger. He prefers to have his own personal space, a small bubble of air around him. I get it. I often feel the same way and I’ve never understood why people think it’s OK to grab and lift and touch other people without knowing if it’s OK with them. I remember when I was pregnant people would just pat the baby bump, in my case the baby boulder, and it drove me nuts.
Back when I first met J I sensed that he didn’t mind closeness if you asked first. So I always ask. Usually we sit shoulder to shoulder; often he will eventually stroke my hand. He loves to point out when my nails are a mess, you know – the terrible day before the manicure you should have had last week. Once he touched my thumb and mentioned that “brown is not a good color”. He was, as usual, right. He has an artist’s eye. I always try to have a fresh manicure when I see J. I love to present my neatly colored fingers to him and wait for a thumbs up. His cousin and I sometimes get our nails done together and we always inspect the colors, looking for one that will be “J approved”.
J has many other interests. He used to be intimidated by weather; dark gathering storm clouds would ruin his day. He doesn’t like the unexpected. I found a meteorology kit online and got it for J. On the day I gave it to him there was about 6 adults there and several kids ranging in age from 3 to 17. None of us could figure out how to set the damn thing up. J wasn’t aware of what it was yet so he didn’t share our frustration. Since I was the one who brought the offending object into our midst I was left to figure it out. At one point I had to walk away from it for a few minutes. My hands were literally itching with annoyance at too many parts and instructions that didn’t make sense. Before I left the room J asked me what the object was. I told him it was supposed to be like a weather station, when assembled it would tell him what was going on in the clouds and the air. I apologized to him for it being so complicated; it had looked so cool on the website. I promised him that I would figure it out even if it killed me; I just had to take a little break. When I came back the weather thingie was almost fully assembled and J greeted me with a smile and bestowed upon me the honor of sticking on all the cool decals. He checks it every morning and has become really good at forecasting the weather. And he lovingly named the device – “that thing that Dianne couldn’t do”.
J is kind and gentle. J is clever and creative. His brothers and sisters are better people because of him; they are more accepting of diversity and far more considerate of others than most people.
J is everything you would want in a friend. Oh yes, and J is autistic.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day.
April is Autism Awareness Month – I hope you’ll take a moment here and there to watch a documentary about autism or read some articles. I also encourage you to check out my friends:
Casdock – her blog is serenity. The images in this post and on my sidebar came from her site. She is generous that way. I had to stop myself or my sidebar would be the twin of her sidebar – so go check out the rest over there and read a bit about her and her son.
Jeni – Grandmother extraordinaire. I love to read about the escapades of Maya and Kurtis, not to mention the cats. My favorite Maya story is when she glued her works of art to the wall. Oh and the way she proclaimed the arrival of visiting cat Nina – “the Neener is here, the Neener is here”. We should all be greeted with such enthusiasm. My favorite image of Kurtis is the one of him falling asleep while eating some kind of cereal – I think it was whole wheat and peanut butter morsels. If only Jeni could fall asleep so easily.
Linda aka Snoopmurph– I love her name so I always include it. Linda’s son Connor has a place in my heart because he loves Siren’s photo so much. Siren is often difficult to love – he’s complicated and carries with him a giant load of issues. I wonder if Connor can sense that when he gazes at Si’s photo. Wouldn’t surprise me if he did. Connor’s brother Ian is a very entertaining fellow. He appears in one of my all time favorite vlogs. He is quite the star. Linda and her family are what I wish all children had. Actually I wish they’d adopt me.
Michelle – her entry for today is, as I commented to her, “perfect, simply perfect”. And check out the poem from the previous post. You will most likely want to spend some time there.
Each of these blogs will also link you to other blogs and sites. Places where you can learn and understand.
Through J I have become convinced that it only takes a moment of understanding to gain a lifetime of joy. It is his gift to me.