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1/8/2013: My Hero!

Friday, February 8, 2013
Good morning, everyone! It's another blue blaster Colorado day today! I love days like this. I don't mind the snow on the ground so much if it's sunny. Today is another busy day. First, there's coffee with the girls. Hey, I have priorities, alright? Then I get to go to my brother's six month evaluation. Now, before you "tsk, tsk...that poor girl's brother is in some kind of trouble" let me tell you about him. Gary is my hero...my absolute, cape and mask, leap tall buildings hero. Gary is a year and half older than me. By the time I came around, they began to suspect there might be something wrong with him. He was slower to develop than his peers. One eye trailed to the side. He wasn't talking and when he was, he either stammered or you couldn't understand what he said. By the time I started school, the doctors diagnosed him with cerebral palsy and that totally politically incorrect term, mental retardation. I didn't care. Gary was my hero. We played together all the time. He was a perfect foil to my comedy. He was a great Indian to my Cowgirl. He loved hide-and-seek. He was generous to a fault. He gave away his toys to others so they would have some to play with. He was tenderhearted and sweet. He was my hero. As time went on, I grew older and played with other kids. Gary became content to play baseball cards and scrabble and watch TV, usually by himself. Someone gave him a golf club and he would putt around in the back yard. He got a hand me down bat, ball, and glove and would enlist whoever was available for a game of catch. He was my hero. In 5th grade, I was playing on the playground and someone came up and asked me if Gary went to Sumner School, the "special" school in town. When I asked why, she said there had been a bus accident that morning and the driver was killed but she didn't know anything about the students. I went cold inside. My hero! Where is my hero?! Dad came and got me and took me home. He said Mom was at the hospital with Gary and he was pretty banged up but they thought he would be ok. The knot in my stomach eased a little. After all, he was my hero! Gary survived the accident, although he might have been a little slower because of his head injury. Later he had a surgical repair to one of his legs to improve his gait. He was in a cast from armpit to ankle in the heat of summer. I read to him and played games. Poor kid was pretty miserable. Late that fall when he was better and up and around, i was in the house and he was out shooting hoops in the back yard. I heard the neighbor boy mocking him. That made me so mad. NOBODY picked on my bubby! I snuck around the back of this boy's house. He was crouched down in a space in the hedge at the top of the bank that led down to the street. He never heard me coming. I gave him a swift kick in the but and sent him head over heels into the road below. No one messes with MY hero! Time went on. Gary went to the special school till he couldn't any more. They sent him to a vocational rehab training school to try to teach him a skill, but it was too far away from my Mom for her comfort, so she brought him back home. He lived there and worked in the Sheltered Workshop in our hometown, counting screws in bags and stuffing envelopes. He did this till the day our mom passed suddenly. I rushed home and he asked me what was going to happen to him now. He broke my heart, this hero of mine. As it turns out, there is a wonderful program near me that cares for and teaches adults with developmental disabilities. When I went to enroll Gary, they told me there was a ten year waiting list for residential services. Ten years! I love my brother but he and I both know living with me is not the best scenario for either of us. So I prayed. I asked everyone I knew to pray. I told God that if it was His will, I would care for Gary myself. But if not, here was this wonderful program that could give him a life of his own. Gary didn't know how to do anything for himself. Mom did everything for him down to cutting his meat. He had so much to learn to make it in this world. Well, three DAYS later, I got a call from the service stating they were able to get emergency funding for Gary because his primary caregiver had died. Then, miraculously, they suddenly had an opening. They NEVER had openings. But get this....they called everyone on the ten year waiting list and NO ONE could move in within a month! And that is when I gave my life to God. HE is the one that made that happen! Now, Gary lives in an apartment with a roommate, works four days a week for the county clerk, volunteers four days a week for the local hospital, belongs to a literary book club, participates in Special Olympics, and takes public transportation all over town. He has even taken trips to Mexico and Hawaii! Yes, heroes are real....very real. So today, I get to go to his six month evaluation and listen to how well he is doing and give him praise for the great job he is doing! He's been in the program 9 years now. He is my hero.

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