I can’t walk and he can’t talk.
I have CMT; he is deaf and has, well, seven other disabilities, according to his pediatrician. No matter. I wouldn’t be writing this story if he were here with me today. It’s Sunday and I miss him terribly.
Yes, I have friends and lovers, but that’s for other places, times. We are an odd couple. He is less than half my age, prone to seizures, but then I am an unlikely contestant for The Bachelor.
His name is John and he is my son. I guess you’d say he’s my personal motivator, a rock, an inspiration to me.
One of his gifts is something few people have. It is a wordless, uncritical ability to see through people. I learned this from him. Both John and I can read people’s secrets; your feelings are clearly exposed to us. I now have an emotional knowledge that enables me to manipulate any situation should I choose to and I do sometimes.
I’ve never wished for a more perfect child, one who could support me in my old age, even change the world for good, though he does that for me. I didn’t ask him to contribute grandchildren... this is not my only life. I didn’t ask him to make brilliant conversation during dinner… his uncle, the Harvard PHD does that.
If I’ve been gone for a day, he doesn’t run up and hug and kiss me. As a matter of fact, he won’t even look at me directly if I’ve been gone longer. He gazes at the floor, intensifying the emptiness of my non-presence. Then ever so slowly the edge of his mouth turns up and our affection resumes.
Since there’s no spoken language between us (he doesn’t start arguments or defray feelings), touch becomes important. There are exercises in the morning while listening to Matt Lauer or Charlie Rose. There are back rubs, hand dances, sign language, pats, prods... I constantly ask myself what my actions feel like to him. This type of questioning has improved all my other relationships with people.
Sometimes we lie about in the bay window of the den watching the birds splash in the fountain outside, or catch the bright yellow finches jockeying for place on their feeder. Just hanging out with John is deeply satisfying.
I don’t know how to make this a better world. I found out what I liked and worked here and there on the details. The changes weren’t big. Life’s a blessing that’s for sure. Yes, this is a wonderful world.