I am thinking a lot about my brother lately. He is more than the sum of his parts, although the sum of his parts do yield a pretty impressive human. See thus:
1. He is an Eagle Scout. He started scouting as a kindergartener and he went the entire way. No small thing. Achieving the highest level of scouting takes a level of commitment that people don’t realize.
2. He is the healthiest person I know. He works out almost everyday and has been eating like Hostess has been out of business for years. No one ever told him to focus on his health, yet he did because he cares about the temple that is his body. I am amazed that we come from the same pool of DNA.
3. He is a walking encyclopedia. Fair warning: don’t ask him about World War II, weaponry, weight lifting, gardening, dogs, or the Minor Prophets unless you have several hours to kill.
4. He’s a big guy, and when he comes in to give you a bear hug, he may or may not give you a complimentary chiropractic adjustment too.
5. He has mastered the art of telling bad jokes. Guys, they are bad, but in the best possible way. If he woke up one morning and was able to tell jokes that didn’t make me groan, I would wonder what was wrong with the world.
6. His level of compassion is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed, period. He listens when you need to vent and he doesn’t judge you in the least bit when you bare your teeth. He is nonconfrontational and loving. Even if he dishes out a platitude to make you feel better, you will think he thought of it himself. His love is unconditional like a parent’s.
Trevor is my big little brother. He will always be my little brother since he he was born after me, but since he’s got at least six inches and about 40 pounds on me, he is my big little brother. He is more than his Aspergers. He has never, ever let it get in the way of him being a person capable of living a full, productive life. He has never once gotten down on himself because of the limitations his diagnosis could have put on him. Although he’s let down when things don’t go his way or when he doesn’t get to do something he wants to do, he’s never blamed it on Asbergers because he’s never seen it as a disability (rightly so, too, since it’s more of a difference than a disability). In fact, he doesn’t give it much thought at all, which is admirable by itself.
A positive attitude isn’t everything, though. It makes for an inspirational blog post, but it doesn’t pay the bills. You can’t put a positive attitude on your resume underneath your educational background. A positive attitude doesn’t get your car fixed or replaced when it’s totaled. It doesn’t squelch your family’s worries about you. Right now, my brother has a host of life problems he’s facing. I call him every day just to check in on him and remind him that I love him even though I don’t live close by. He’s an easy person to encourage, as he listens and politely takes into consideration all the advice you want to give him. There are gaps in the conversation and I wonder if our call got dropped when he doesn’t respond to me right away, but he’s always there, taking it in and thinking about how to respond. I can hear the gears in his head creaking over the phone.
His problems won’t be solved within the span of our conversations. Things won’t get easier overnight. My mom and I will always worry about him. But just as sure as these things are true, his attitude and his pure goodness will remain constant. Even if you can’t itemize his wonderful attributes on a professional resume, Trevor is a triumph and I know things will always be OK with him – even when they’re not – because giving in to his differences isn’t even on the radar.
He is not Aspergers. He is my brother.