My brother Stevie is one of my hero’s. We are close in age…just three years apart; however, my life has taken a very different path than Stevie’s. You see, Stevie has Cerebral Palsy (CP) which is caused by abnormal development or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture. In addition to CP, Stevie is mentally handicapped….he has the cognitive capacity of a two-year old.
Stevie Knox, Circa 1980
My brother cannot talk.
My brother cannot make decisions for himself.
My brother wears a diaper.
Looking into his eyes, there is an intensity that I’ve never witnessed in another human. Stevie is highly aware of others and his surroundings. He has a passion like no other. He seizes the moments and relishes in simple undertakings like savoring a cold glass of chocolate milk or the crackling sound of a plastic Wal-Mart bag as he twirls it obsessively over his head.
When I was a child, I am ashamed to say that I was embarrassed that I had a special needs brother. I used to dream about him being “normal” and having one of those ornery, yet fun brother-sister relationships that I used to read about in my escape books.
It took me years…. a lifetime really, to appreciate the gifts I received from Stevie.
I love you Stevie.
We all have had people in our lives that have made an impact on the person we are today. For a time, I under-appreciated my brother….years later, it is he that has taught me some of life’s greatest lessons.
Is there someone in your life that you have under-appreciated? What did it take for you to realize that you were missing an opportunity for joy?