June 29, 2009

First Step

Today is Madi 14th month and she made her first step. My husband was preparing to leave for work and I was having my breakfast then we saw Madi was attempting to walk. She stood up, made one step forward with her left foot, stumbled down, and then did the same cycle four times that moment. When she stopped trying, I asked her, “are you tired?” then she smiled at me and I asked her again, “we’ll practice more later, ok?” and she said, “opo.” 

It was exciting to watch her and I hope that she will carry throughout her life the perseverance and courage that I see in her now.

June 8, 2009

Remembering My Special Brother

My brother, Conrad, is a special child, the eldest among five children, born normal but had a convulsion when he was still an infant which affected his brain, he died three years ago of a freak accident. If he were alive today, he’d be thirty seven.

“Kuya Conry” (what we call him- “kuya” is a name in Filipino for a bog brother and “Conry” was his nickname) had  to go into therapy to be able to walk and did not have an appetite for food when he was a baby. My parents said he was not able to walk until he was six years old. My brother used to have braces on his legs (which I saw in pictures), and my parents would bring him to the park every weekend as part of the therapy. Everything he ate had to be colored yellow (like mango, banana, and papaya) because it was attractive to him; it even went to the extent that his skin turned yellow because of all the yellow fruits and vegetables he ate.

When he was about four years old, he started to eat just ANYTHING. The last years of his life, he weighed about one hundred and thirty pounds eventhough he was short (5’3”). If you look at him, he would appear heavy for his height. Kuya had a big tummy and skinny legs. (because he did not walk that much, which is also why he didn’t grow taller). His metabolism was very slow, and he didn’t have chest, leg, or armpit hair; had a round baby face, deep set dark brown eyes, freckles, and dimples; even had the best set of teeth among us children. If he were normal, he would be a gorgeous guy.

Kuya Conry had to have his own nanny; we usually hired a guy because he sometimes had tantrums and it was easier for a man to control him. He couldn’t eat by himself and if you leave him alone at the table he will make a mess. You can also leave him in the tub but he will only play with the water (just like a toddler).

He attended school for special children between the ages of seven and eleven. My parents also hired a private tutor a one point. However, he did not have the patience to sit and listen to a teacher. He was also not good with other special students.

Though he was a lot to handle, he was very sweet. He loved it when there were a lot of people around, so his best times were probably parties and gatherings. He hugged all the people he likes but the hugs were not normal hugs. When Kuya hugs, he uses only one arm and grabs by your neck. You really have to be prepared. Otherwise, you will feel hurt because he grabs really hard.

He never learned how to talk but he made sounds. When he was sad or wanted something he couldn’t get, he would make the “moo” sound like of a cow in a very low tone; when he was happy, he would make a high-pitched sound of joy. He also cried and laughed.

Kuya’s normal day would be to sit the whole day in front of the TV or listening to the radio. He loved to be entertained and he can dance. But you cannot just turn the TV or radio on to make him happy- you have to turn them to his favorite channels/ stations. On television, he liked to watch religious, musicals, and cartoon like Shrek and other funny features. On the radio he preferred broadway musicals like Miss Saigon and Phantom of the Opera.

Among everyone in the house, he loved our Dad, his nanny, and me the most. Everytime we got home, he would get excited, yelled for joy, and ran to meet us at the porch no matter what he was up to.

I have a lot of special memoroes growing up with Kuya and I love him dearly. I tried to spend time and took care of him on my days off. I watched movies and listened to music with him, I drove him around the city (he loved to sit in the car), and I gave him baths (he enjoyed it when you give him time to play with the flowing water in the tub). He was a part of my system.

In spite of him being a special child, he still somehow served me as a normal big brother. I sometimes wished his condition never happened so that I would have a big brother who could protect me from bullies and jerks like in the movies. But I think he still saved me from a lot of things. I have become what I am partly because of him. Because of who my big brother was, I grew up responsibly. I thought I had to be responsible since I had to act as the eldest. He inspired me in everything I did.