“I am a Full Grown Man.” That statement has been uttered by my brother on more than one occasion. It would not be such an outstanding statement if he were not challenged. Stan was not supposed to be a full grown man or anything else for that matter. He was just supposed to be a vegetable stuck away in an asylum in the dark – while continually pumped with drugs to keep him compliant.
You see Stan is challenged both physically and mentally. He was also born in 1952 when the challenged were hidden away because they brought shame and disgrace on the family. There were hundreds of thousands of challenged individuals locked away from the prying eyes of the public for many years. They were called “idiots, slow, evil, stupid”, those were the nice names. They were laughed at, abused mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually. They were left to rot in a strange place with strange people who not only didn’t love them, they didn’t like them. These care givers believed that these unique individuals were there simply for their own enjoyment and twisted fun.
They were not taught any life skills, not survival skills and when they did try to speak out they were abused even more. They lived most of their life in solitary – both emotionally and verbally. Locked in a world they could never escape from. Hitler used them as lab rats to perform his sadistic rituals of testing. They have been used a court jesters, a source of cheap amusement for those who should know better.
“I am a Full Grown Man.” Those words are such a source of pride to Stan who was born into a family who was able to see past his handicap. Who were able to see the human with a heart, a soul and love in his face. A family who circled the wagons when the threat of abuse tried to enter his life.
Stan was never supposed to be able to reason, much less grown into a “full grown man.” He was never supposed to go to school much less feed himself, dress himself, wipe his butt after using the bathroom. As a matter of fact he was never even supposed to know when he had to go to the bathroom. But he learned.
He learned because he was loved at a time when the handicap was hated. He learned because he had a mother and father who would walk through through the fires of hell to help him succeed. He learned because inside of him was the tenacity to learn.
Was it easy? No! Absolutely not! Was there heartache, pain and detours? You bet! Did that stop Stan from reaching toward his goal of success? Hardly.
You see inside most of us there is that desire, an obsession almost to be somebody. To be better than the world thinks we should be. Stan had more than a healthy dose of it. He was over flowing with it. He believed therefore he achieved. He refused to allow anyone or anything undermine his dreams.
You might say well, he was never told he was “Retarded”. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. He has known since he was a child that he had brain damage and it retarded part of his brain. He understands this and will tell anyone who asks that he has a challenge. But he doesn’t care. He knows who he is inside and he is okay with “Stan”.
But you might ask “Doesn’t he get discouraged?” The answer is sure he does. But on the other hand we all do at one time or the other. You might ask isn’t he dependent on someone else to take care of him? My answer is “Are you kidding me?” This full grown man has been taught by his siblings and his mother that he can be independent.
He can work a full time job and make his own money. He can travel and enjoy his vacations. “Well,” you might ask, “Can he manage his own finances?” My answer is he has someone who does that for him. Many of us “normal” people do. So that is not big deal. You might ask “Can he draw a check from the government?” My answer to that question is “If anyone ever entertains that thought out loud to him, he will tell you right quick, “I want to make my own money. I don’t want to live off the Government.”
“I am a full Grown Man.” – When anyone attempts to baby him – that is the statement he gives. He makes mistakes, he has been hurt, and he has been used. But so have we all at one time or the other. He also has a great capacity to love, loyalty and generosity.
In 60 years he has taught me his oldest sister more than I could ever teach him. He has been my yardstick to success. He doesn’t give up and he is happy by not how much he makes but because he can make that money, no matter how many times they shuffle him around. He has worked at jobs that most of us would turn our nose up at because we felt we were to good to do them. He has worked long hard hours for little money simply because he can. He has been treated with disrespect, and dishonor because he is “different”. But he forgives and goes on. He harbors no grudges and he believes – “it will be alright”.
He knows when he is being teased in such away that is becomes abuse and he knows it makes him angry. He also taught himself how to control that anger. He didn’t go to therapy, he didn’t have a professional help him understand the source of his anger. He didn’t have to buy a gun and kill someone. He didn’t have to beat someone up because he was “angry.” He walks away. He takes deep breathes and he forgives. Simple as that.
All this he learned and he is “Retarded.” Yes, that is the name for his affliction. It is what it is. But then all of us are retarded in some way or another. If we say we aren’t we are lying to ourselves.
Stan is a teaching tool. He is a success story at a time when failure was his only option. His story is one that each person on this planet should read, should give to children – teachers and businesses. His story is one that can change the way we think about life, work, relationships, money, loyalty, and even our future.
No one not even the government owes us anything. We owe ourselves to be the best we can be. We owe society the best we are. Stan is a prime example of playing the cards he has been dealt. Of taking them and making a Royal Flush – of being successful simply because he has a moral compass and he uses it daily.
Read his story, Dream Catcher, Failure Was Never An Option. It is available on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Nook Book, Lulu .com and my online store at http://thebookattic.ecrater.com
You will be a better person for having done so. How many of us can really say “I am a full grown man or woman?” Really say it and mean it. Age does not make us grown. Only Wisdom and the use of it to better ourselves and others. Stan has it!