My brother, Tim

I remember as a little girl, around the age of 6, making a wish on the first star of the night. Now most children would be wishing for that new bicycle or the latest Barbie with the convertible car and don’t get me wrong most of my wishes consisted of such things, but this wish was not for me. This wish was for my 5 year old brother Tim, that he could get “better”. At this age I couldn’t really comprehend that Tim was mentally handicapped, and that this was not a condition that could be cured. All I knew was that I wanted Tim to be able to come to school with me, to run like I could, to be “normal”. I guess even though I couldn’t really understand what was wrong with Tim at that age, I knew that he was different and that made our family different, that made me different.

In those early years this difference became our norm and we grew up in a home filled with love and a lot of noise. As an adult looking back now I have the greatest respect for my parents who navigated our family of six (yes there were four kids) through the chaos of childhood.

And then I entered the teenage years where the last thing you wanted to be was different. I guess I felt some resentment towards my parents because I thought they couldn’t understand what it was like to have a brother like Tim. How would I ever bring a boy home to meet the family? How family holidays became almost impossible because Tim didn’t like going anywhere he wasn’t familiar with. On the odd occasion when we did venture out as a family, the uncomfortable stares from other people, the looks of annoyance and pity as Tim threw one of his very traumatic tantrums, the apprehension and inner dread that he just might embarrass me (us)!

I remember thinking to myself why did this have to happen to us, why couldn’t we just be normal?

Ten years later and I am finding the answers to these questions. Tim is the glue that keeps our family together, he is the best of us all. He does not live with regrets from yesterday or worry about the stresses of tomorrow, he lives in the now, in the present. He has a genuine love for all people and has the ability to brighten up even the worst days with just a simple greeting which usually consists of telling you that you smell like yogurt or like cows, or French perfume if you’re lucky! Tim was given to us as the most precious gift, he’s taught us to be better people, to accept people for who they are, to embrace the things that make us all unique and to appreciate the small things and to live life to its full. If we could live like Tim does just for one day, we would be the happiest people in the world. We would jump out of bed in the morning, we would sing and dance without inhibition, we would greet people with such love and warmth, we would laugh with real joy at the smallest things and best of all we would make every person we meet feel those exact same things.

A huge milestone in our families life was when Tim came of age to stand a bit more on his own, to get some independence. The obvious choice was Pevensey Place, a place for cerebral palsied adults in our hometown where we as a family and as a community had been involved with over the years. Through Pevensey, Tim has found his place in the world, a place where he is loved and accepted. Pevensey has given us the second greatest gift of all, a home for my very special brother.