Joey and his big brother Tim are 27 months apart. They are 19 and 21 years old. Young Tim says that he did not notice the extraordinary amount of care that Joey required when they were little, but as they became older, he remembers that we were too tired to take him places and do things with him. Ouch. He was glad when he became older and he and his friends were allowed to drive.
But on a much happier note, it was surprising to hear that Tim never suddenly realized that Joey was different. As we struggled, not only with Joey, but with a couple of other huge things that wore us down, Tim’s continues to say, “Joey was just Joey and it never bothered me.” He may have become angry with us at times, but was not embarrassed or ashamed of his brother!
Young Tim has always gone along with what Joey wanted to do, which has been limited and pretty much the same throughout their lives.
When Joey was under a year old and young Tim under 3 they would chase each other back and forth around the hallway, turning the corner and back into the playroom. Young Tim would crawl to chase Joey, then they would “about-face” and Joey would chase. They made a lot of noise before each “about-face” and there was constant laughter!
He still teases Joey with silly talk by saying “Cold water in Tim’s room?” The “cold water” reminds Joey of when, as Tim would help us by giving Joey a bath, he would surprise Joey by filling up a cup with colder water and pouring it on him. The “Tim’s room” part reminds Joey of when his brother would be looking after him and brought him downstairs while he did his homework. Joey was bored. So, the combination of the two brought Joey to exclaim “NO?”
Another favorite question that young Tim still asks, “as I get in his face” is “Time to go potty?” Another resounding “NO?!”
I am very proud of Tim for paying more attention to Joey’s behavior than to the looks of strangers. To this day, he does not remember other peoples’ reactions while he was helping me with Joey. Fortunately, those times were few.
“Joey responds more when I am physical with him…. When I speak to him I have to get directly in his face.” “There is not a lot to do with Joey. We say the same things over and over. He likes it when I help him with the computer or when I talk about his favorite movies or say words using the wrong vowels. He is like having a much younger brother.”
I remember the look of pride in young Tim’s face when Joey was 18 and guardianship was established. Tim will be Joey’s guardian when we are too old to be. When we were finished, young Tim approached Joey, put his arm around him, then walked him out, face right up to Joey’s face, talking to him. It brought tears to my eyes. This is how it should be, I thought.
Young Tim remembers taking Joey to high school for the first time. “Joey was clinging to me and did not want to let go as I brought him to the aide in the special ed. department, but the next day he was OK.”
My favorite recollection from young Tim was, “I did not see him much around high school but when I saw him in the hallway, I would say ‘hi’ and punch him in the stomach.” Now, that’s a big brother!