Friday, August 28, 2009

Ever-Expanding World

Kurt has always been one to like having his family close. He worries about “Keifer,” the nickname that stuck on his older brother. “When will Keifer be home?” Kurt has asked numerous times this summer. Keith has been home from college doing an engineering internship in Minneapolis. When he goes out at night or is away for the weekend visiting his fiancé, Kurt worries.

Our college student left last weekend for UW-Platteville. Now Kurt tries to understand the nebulous calendar. He gets that each sunrise is a new day, but how many of them before Keifer returns is vague. “Sometime this fall,” I say, knowing that Kurt has a sense of seasons, but it really just stops the question until the first leaves turn color and begin to drop.

Keith will graduate in December, he has an apartment with Jen, and he started cleaning out his room for good, so we’ll have a guest room. How will Kurt react to his brother truly leaving the nest?

His younger brother Kelly is another source of concern for Kurt. Kelly has been his transportation this summer. After being so proud to introduce Kelly to his friends for the last couple of months, soccer practice started a few weeks ago and the two brothers are spending less time together. “Is Kelly at soccer?” Kurt will ask when I pick him up from Community Homestead. He’s disappointed to see me.

Kelly starts his senior year of high school in a few days.

What does Kurt think? Does he imagine where everyone is each day? He has ridden in Paul’s semi and he visited my office once. He has been to the high school and also to Platteville Keith’s first year. Does Kurt keep those visions in his memory?

Paul and I, and Kurt’s brothers have a large world at our convenience. We drive ourselves anywhere we want to go. We have access to the world through the internet, connecting with friends when we want, and shopping is limited only by our funds. Kurt’s world is much smaller. Socializing, shopping or any trips outside the home are up to someone other than Kurt. He has to rely on us.

Kurt’s world has been limited by his seizures and his disabilities. Yet, there is growth. He leaves home five days a week. Some days at Community Homestead, he’s washing the newly picked lettuce or pushing the wheelbarrow full of weeds to the compost. At the day program, he’s playing basketball with his friends at the YMCA and buying groceries to make a snack. He’s gathering eggs from the hens with his friend Nic when he stays with Nic's family. "That's my brother," Kurt tells the people around him on the bleachers when he sees Kelly on the soccer field. He’s buying CDs at garage sales and peanut butter cup blizzards at DQ.

Kurt’s world is expanding. Maybe, just maybe, that will help when his brothers’ worlds go far beyond his grasp.

1 comment:

  1. When I started to read this it made me a little sad. I've known Kurt since he was born and I don't often think about his vision of the world around him and the people in it. But this morning I wss comparing it to some of the many international students who attend SDSU where I work as an office assistant in the economics department. Some of them have such a small grasp of spoken English that communication is extremely difficult. And in wanting to please, they are timid and say yes to any questions whether thay understand or not. But if you have the chance to see them with other students from their home country, they are vibrant and confident. They are amazed by the American way of life, especially in California. But most of them will not be staying here; they will return to their homeland with whatever opportunities are there for them and they will take their place in their own society, happy and content. That is my wish for Kurt.


Kurt at 19