Saturday, April 14, 2012

Step 14: Brandon's Brother...

Having a brother with autism, I am also responding to my mom's request about her blog this April, but my story starts off a little different than my father's.

I imagine all three of us will have similar stories except for how they start and the more personal side of it, but for the most part its crazy, mad wonderful (a quote for "Alice in Wonderland") as my mom calls it.  Truth be told, I can't recall a conversation or a "realization" that Brandon was different, I was just a kid growing up and he was my brother.  I do remember talking to him, playing with him, I knew he was different and he wouldn't respond verbally, but we still had some awesome times together. I remember one thing we would always do together and its a really good memory, (my mom will be finding out about this as she edits).  I used to bring Brandon or "coo bear" as we call him into my room and get the end of one of those cylindrical phone charges put it on my tongue, feel the jolt, then let Bbrandon do it.  I put it on his tongue but he knew what we were doing and always stuck his tongue out.  It's funny to look back on that and laugh at it.   (Mom here, - Note to Matt:  You are grounded.)

When I was little I guess I hadn't figured out that "Brandon did it" wouldn't be a tolerable excuse for when my parents found all the triangles I used to like to cut into things, but it didn't take long to figure that lesson out.  It was this innocence and acceptance of the norm that made this whole thing a ton easier for me and helped me mature along the ride without knowing it.  I can't really imagine, and you can't really unless you are a parent, the feeling it must have been to find out about Brandon's diagnosis.  But for me that's just the way things were and I was happy with it. I love him and he loves me. I don't think there was a day that went by that Brandon wasn't on the trampoline or in the water with me and my buddies making us look bad with his cat-like balance and ability to always stay on his feet no matter how many times we feel off the trampoline and slipped in the dirt or mud.  God always kept coo upright and laughing at us as we got up.  My friends maybe didn't understand Brandon, but they knew if they wanted their pizza and drink to still be there when we came back in, they would have to hide their plates and cups on top of the refrigerator.

As I grew into my teens I started to see the maturity that Brandon had given me growing up, especially in high school I quickly found out I was much more patient and "big picture" about things than most of the people around me. In the Navy SEAL ethos "adversity" is a common term. Dealing with adversity, reactions to the unexpected, discipline, and ultimately never giving up. While I'm not a SEAL yet, I know that the decision to enter the program and the success I've had with it thus-far was largely due to lessons I've learned growing up with Brandon. Brandon has made my whole life "adverse" and I absolutely love it. We are always living on our toes. With coo around you literally never know whats going to happen and he's taught me to be calm and just laugh in situations that would give others a heart attack.  I've learned a ton of discipline from him.  From something as big as my goal to be a SEAL, to the perseverance and discipline etc.,  that goes along with that, or something as little as meticulously locking every door as I leave out of it or else risking death of my rooms cleanliness, --- he has definitely taught me how to keep my head on straight.

Lastly coo, along with my parents have taught me to never quit. There is so much my parents both deal with on a daily basis with him from diapers to the financial burden to deciding who's going to clean his latest mess, and they deal with all of it most of the time with a smile. I see marriages all around dropping like flies. Parents having  f talented, typical, loving kids, and still not able to make it.  And than seeing my parent's deal with all the additional stress that coo brings and still having an amazing and I believe growing marriage was an amazing inspiration to me.  They taught me to never quit without ever having to say it, just because they never did.  I will never be able to express how grateful I am for that.  Not to mention their other son (me) which I heard was no easy task either ;).  

Growing up with Brandon has been a ton of fun and I wouldn't change anything about it.  He's given me a drive to be better than myself in wanting to not just accomplish things for me, but for Brandon too.   Doing that has helped me to be even more determined to set out and finish anything I have ever started.  I'm cautious about what I start to do, because I know I will have to finish whatever it is.  I have never quit anything I started, and I never will.  This was set in to me by my parents and their unshakable marriage.
Whats is it like to grow up with coo?

Lets just say you should be very jealous you didn't grow up like me.

It was that good :)

Written by Matt Guppy