When I was a kid,
and I would tell someone I had a Retarded brother…
they would say things like…
“Wow, you don’t SEEM like you have a Retarded brother!”
My older brother Reve, is Mentally Retarded.
It was a birth accident, something about a difficult delivery and
a country Doctor and the missuse of forceps.
He was their first..my parents were both in their early twenties and
my father was still in college.
They did not know…what they did not know,
He was just their baby boy.
Some kids start slow.
He was not diagnosed until he was 3.
…..and his baby sister was already talking…while he still
There were no lawsuits…we just lived our life.
It was our family.
I knew no different.
My brother played in the yard with the rest of us
….if he was “out” in dodge ball…he was “out”.
He went to a Special School with other kids like himself
and special camp and the Special Olympics.
I tell you this story,
not because I want sympathy or admiration…
but because lately…
it seems everywhere I go…
…in the movies, on playgrounds, at the water fountain and out of teacher’s mouths,
on reality shows and in the coffee shops and on the playing field….
is being used to describe everything but what it really means…
And on top of that… it is used to describe BAD things; mistakes, bumbles…
See, that word , “Mentally Retarded”, is what my brother IS….
and he cannot change that,
….like if you are Italian or Tall.
And my brother is not BAD nor is his existence anything but
A blessing to those of us fortunate enough to know him.
He has brain damage…but he is far from stupid.
In fact, I believe it was Reve who was also the first one in our house to do the
Phoebe Holmes, at Herding Cats did an excellent post last year
on this very topic…and I encourage you to read it, she herself has a retarded child
and is all too familiar with the “R” word.
So, if you lose your keys, or drop your latte, or forget your wallet…
turn on the wrong street, call someone the wrong name,
forget to feed the cat or to mail the bills…..
If you make a mistake…
use a different word…
Thank you Very Much.