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This isn't political. But this is a personal peek into why I'm politically active, perhaps.
Movies. Motherhood. Missions.

Movies are something I can share with my son. He and I both have a knack for remembering lines. We both nitpick when there are sloppy edits. We normally watch fun movies. Movies that make us laugh, forget, movies that take us away.

Okay... "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"... Cripes, no one warned me about this one and how hard it would be for me to watch (on so many levels). I thought I had seen it. One of the BEST movies I have ever seen and don't ever want to see again. And I'm so glad that Depp's character didn't "drop his so-called 'burden' to take care of his own needs" and kept his brother with him. Unlike all the mainstream movies of late which praise the killing of anyone disabled. "Mentally retarded"??? My ass! Arnie was autistic. Closer to my son's realm of autism than that "other" movie or autistic person I've met so far. It's a whole box of kleenex, but worth it (IF YOU"RE EXPECTING IT -- I wasn't). Don't even get me started on the mother issue and raising your siblings.

The resemblance was eerie and astonishing! Leonardo's character even SOUNDED like my son. The way he laughs, the way he cries. The shrieks of joy. The shrieks of panic. And the whole "Say (fill in the blank). Say it!" instructions he gives us all. The same questions over and over. I was half expecting him to start reciting Bond flicks. The fingers and head movements were exactly his. Cripes. That actor had it NAILED. Sorry.. it just totally floored me.

Console, protect, and try to be patient.
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The above is almost exactly how I spent one Saturday afternoon when Wesley wasn't invited to a movie that his sister was. Later on he got to go with his dad. I think the hardest part of any disability is the loneliness.

The terror he felt and continues to feel when something reminds him of when he thought he had hurt a kitten forever when he accidentally stepped on it's foot. "But the kitty SCREAMED! I make kitty SCREAM"

The patiently repeated responses from Gilbert to Arnie. The trying certain calming techniques.. WHILE strangers are watching and second guessing and playing armchair quarterback. The expectations of others... the one moment you relax is when something bad will happen and everyone can stand in judgement. Could see how Arnie would escalate ... seems easier to see when from afar.

Very good movie. Hard movie. The candy aisle situation! Wesley will ask me first, I say, "no" or "just one" and he'll ask someone else and accept THEIR answer over mine if it suits him. Wesley laughed at that scene and the "Where's Arnie, SAY 'Where's Arnie'" (tree scenes).

He's about to turn 13. The older he gets the more I realize he'll probably be living with me forever. Maybe a studio apartment on our property. And that's okay, he makes life more beautiful and interesting.

Most say I am his teacher his advocate. I think I am able to be these things for him as I have constantly accepted the role of being Wesley's student also. I will never learn or appreciate so much as he has taught and shown me.

The Obese Mother issue... Wasn't it enough to have a movie about Arnie and his brother??? The "they'll have to use a crane" hit home as that's something me and my brother have been trying to find a remedy for - just in case. Something the Talibaptists in our family keep hounding us about as if it's going to come out of their own pocket. They are so ready to bury her and we're trying to help her live. Typical. The nursing home we had her in let her go. But there was sweet relief for a few months. Got her dental needs met even and some PT. New cane and bathroom accessories.

I'm rambling. But sometimes I have to write these feelings, thoughts down so that I can make room for all the "sunshine" that Wesley brings into my life. I can't stroll through my days with such heavy matters weighing in. Therefore I jot them down and I leave them for others to see and soak.

Maybe that is the only real "burden" (not my term at all - society tends to think I am a poor, burdened soul because my child is different).... maybe my real burden is having so much to share about something that many can't comprehend.

Okay, it's out there. Now we can watch James Bond and eat Eskimo Pies. Life is beautiful.

Now I can be what I need to be so that he can be everything he wants to be.

Originally posted to Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 11:30 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ive worked (4.00)
    with autistic children and my heart goes out to you as it's not easy for a parent with a child with a disability.  God speed.
  •  Thank you (4.00)
    That was sweet, and sad, and full of a grace and Humanity I can only aspire to.

    Thank you for reminding all of us that the poltical is first personal, and that humanity starts in the home an emanates outward.  Give your son an extra hug from all of us today

    Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

    by Magorn on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 11:35:08 AM PDT

    •  Thank you (none)
      Consider your hugs given.

      My kids are what drive me to be active political. They are raising me to be a true blue liberal :)

      We've made many choices this year and they both have helped in those decisions... ie what organization to contribute to... purchasing power.

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 12:40:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am glad you shared it here (4.00)
    Thank you

    Tired of the corporate DLC suck ups?WE'VE GOT DEANS BACK

    by TeresaInPa on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 11:37:45 AM PDT

  •  I hear you (4.00)
    my son is also different.  He is not autistic but he is on the spectrum.  I am so blessed by him.

    The Christian Right is neither Witness Every Day

    by TXsharon on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 11:41:01 AM PDT

    •  TXSharon thank you (none)
      In one of my other diaries I wrote about "being different"

      reminds me of "we all have to draw our rainbows from the colors we've been given" Sounds Pollyannish.. but in a way, we are all different. All broken. All needing some guidance and support.

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 12:44:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for sharing (4.00)
    best of luck to you and your son

    i know the struggle that autism can bring

    for more on that visit my diary here....http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/6/28/212551/109

    email: tlawkos@yahoo.com

    by tlaw on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 11:53:44 AM PDT

    •  Thanks - (none)
      Read your diary and commented. I, too, and on the Question Authority side :)

      I've never had to battle autism. It's battling the agencies, schools and societies stupidity that has been the hardest fight of all.

      It's hard to watch him struggle though. We as parents are supposed to take away the pain.. and with this... one can only console. That's another hard part of it.

      But... he's totally golden and well loved and cared for.

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 12:47:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dammit Janet (4.00)
    thanks for talking for us all.

    Our autistic children are as much a joy as a burden, just like any child.  Like any child, they show us things we missed the first time around.

    And I loved Gilbert Grape.  Johnny Depp, of course, is awesome, but Leonardo just blew me away.    

    Someday, the people who know how to use computers will rule over those who don't. And they will have a special name for us: Secretaries. - Dilbert

    by Frankenoid on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 12:14:53 PM PDT

    •  Hey There Frankenoid (none)
      Yes, indeed. It's very humbling. Bittersweet.

      I loved the film, too. Finally a character one can relate to due to the reality (Depps). They didn't HollyWeird it up.

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 12:51:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Damnit Janet-here's some well wishes you way- (4.00)
    My son has Asperger's, he was very serious when he was younger, and we have had many ups and downs.   I feel the same about the movie, it was classic, and I was so furious that we were so late in diagnosing what was going on, I was all alone raising him when he was younger, kind of going blind.

    I was astonished when I saw the movie, it hit home, becuase even though my son is not as disabled, the same kinds of issues come up and the movements, and the multiple symptoms, and frustrations, the isolation, the loneliness...

    I just have to let you know that there are others out there who feel the same thing sometimes.

    About the mom- There are people we love, to all the world are "burdens", not deserving of our time, our resources, the ones that society shuns, or would easily dispose of.  The ones the rest of the family won't bother to lift a finger to help because they "did it to themselves".  These people teach us humility, patience, and they teach us how to love-unconditionally. Unconditional love is the most priceless thing there is in the human realm.  It frees us from the bonds of dogma, politics, franchise, corruption, regret, jealousy, envy, and most of all, it frees the receiver of the terrible  guilt that can come out of not living up to expectations and potential.

    •  Thanks Lilorphant (none)
      Good luck to you and yours, too.

      I didn't have to battle for a diagnosis, reason, like you did. Fortunate for that as I've met several who, like you, did it alone for so long.

      At first the docs thought I was a "first time mom who was panicky" then they thought he was deaf. (turns out Kanners...low low functioning)  For a while they thought tumors/silent seizure... so no matter what - I'm just shit-happy he's not terminal :)

      Thank you so much about the "burden" aspect with other members of the "family". I'm not quite there yet as being forgiving of them and handle it with such grace... :)   But I'm alot freer than most I know because of how our days run :)

      Thank you!

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 12:55:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lots of love and hugs sent your way - - - n/t (none)

    We will never end terrorism by terrorizing others -- bumper sticker on I-5

    by sara seattle on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 12:50:08 PM PDT

  •  Hugs (none)
    Wow - it has been ages since I saw this movie and of course now that I think back on the things you have shared with us about your life (your son and mom), I can see the eerie parallels!!! No wonder it hit you so hard.

    Thanks for sharing and hugs to your family.

    Can blindly continued fear-induced, regurgitated, life denying traditions be overcome? - Alanis Morissette

    by SanDiegoDem on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 12:52:11 PM PDT

    •  SanDiegoDem (none)
      Yeah, as my husband said of it, "it was a real nutbuster" :)

      We almost stopped the flick when Arnie was deemed not with Downs but Autistic. But we decided it might have some good things for us regarding the "shoring up support" with the mother.

      The docs keep wanting me to talk my mother into a DNR. She doesn't want that and it's not my place to talk anyone into anything...

      But.. I'm trying to nudge her into trying vegetarian lifestyle for health reasons. It's a "nutbuster"... because she doesn't want to give up things... ACK... I just try to stay positive with her because during the darkest time THIS hospitalization, she felt I was being "mean" to her because I tried to be firm with her and have made it clear that I can not for my own soul "enable" or "approve" of some of her.... "choices". But that I will always be positive and supportive.

      It's hard. And sometimes I want to be realistic with her... but she knows. She doesn't need her in her face.

      One thing I have stopped is that I can't be her "nurse" because that's enabling her. I have to be up and awake for my family. I'll coach her but I can't couch her... you know.

      I have someone in my life already who needs an "aide".

      Yeah... the film was close to home. Beautiful though and I'm really glad I got it. A friend of mine said she hadn't seen it in forever and now will watch it with a new perspective. :)

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 01:04:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  <i>What's Eating Gilbert Grape</i> (none)
    Has been a favorite of mine.  Leo DiCaprio is brilliant in it--so brilliant, I find it hard to imagine him in other roles--he was so real.  I have really appreciated Depp's choices--quirky--but human, always riveting.  

    I was shocked by the statistics used by Robert Kennedy Jr. on The Daily Show--1 in 166 children are autistic.  Since we are now sending vaccines with Themerosol to China, a country which had no autism, the number of children with autism is nearly 2 million.  Our statistice used to be something like 1 in hundreds of thousands.

    Unbelievable.....and Rethugs think Corporate America needs less regulation?  Where is the shame?  What have they done to a generation of children?  For what?  

    "It's still the same old story, a fight for love and glory. a case of do or die!"

    by PoliSigh on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 12:59:45 PM PDT

    •  Dear PoliSigh (none)
      Thanks! We parents get bashed about for wanting an investigation into something that seems to be a connection.

      My brother got a chance to meet RFK, Jr and he signed "Crimes Against Nature" for me. I give him all my good vibes. Someone has to find answers and we can only do that by asking questions.

      I, too, love Depp's movies. Reason I got this. I had totally forgotten. Glad I greencined it. :)  

      Cripes, I missed that Daily Show!!! I would love to see it. Or transcripts. Summertime has a whole new schedule here at this house. LOL

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 01:09:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's to you Janet... (4.00)
    and Wesley too...Damnit

    "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." P.McCartney

    by sean mykael on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 01:16:42 PM PDT

    •  Coolness Sean Mykael! (4.00)
      Sir Paul McCartney also did a James Bond Song. "Live and Let Die"

      Wesley saw the above and did a happy dance :)

      Which is totally different from his "OMG there's a lizard on the deck dance of panic" :D

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 01:24:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  FREEZE! (4.00)
      I just got "shot" with an eskimo pie, Sean Mykael. :)

      I'm photobucketing this so he can have it for future epal emails.  

      Mucho gracias!!!

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 03:02:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Janet, (none)
    As always, I can only say how much I respect and admire you and your son.  

    I've never seen the movie, but I will be...very soon.

    "It's not like I never want to bite people...I just know it's wrong." Satchel Pooch

    by Mrs Pastor on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 05:54:37 PM PDT

    •  Thanks Mrs. Pastor (none)
      I had to print off Sean-Mykael's Bond photo so he could have it on his door. (I think he's going to keep it in his Bond Book (Bible) as it would be "safer" there.

      He kept saying, "Lemme see the picture, lemme see the picture".

      All men are created equal - some just stick out more.

      by Damnit Janet on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 06:31:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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