Friday, January 26, 2007

I had another post planned for today, but something's come up.

I remembered earlier this week that there was something special about this day, but I couldn't remember exactly what.

The story goes way back. When I was 16 I will cop to being a little miss goody-two shoes in high school. The guidance office there got an ad for a job/volunteer position as a parent relief worker for an 8 year old boy who has cerebral palsy. I had a job at the time, and a million other volunteer things, but figured it sounded like fun. The applicant had to have a driver's license that I didn't have (well I had a learners permit, but that didn't get me far). Still interested, I decided that I'd rope my high school boyfriend into helping me, and we were a team. He did the driving, and lots of lugging, I opened the doors, got out and swore at the people parked illegally in the disabled spots (who are those people! seriously!) and made the plans.

The first time we met up with Marty we took him to see a movie I've long forgotten the title of. He ate an entire package of junior mints, most of which ended up on his face. I was convinced his mum would never allow her child out in our company again given the condition we returned him in, but she did.

Over the years we took Marty to the movies, to the arcade, swimming (I like to pretend I taught him), for walks, just about everything and had a blast doing it. We had him laughing so hard not one of us could breathe, and I think there may have even been an accident or two. Marty came over to watch movies and we made the hugest ice cream sundaes possible, and I have no doubt we spoiled many dinners as a result.

Eventually, as high school sweethearts often do, my boyfriend and I broke up (well, to be fair, he dumped my ass, but I definitely don't begrudge him that decision now). Marty and I stayed in touch, tough.

The occasional weekend I was home from university, Marty and I would head out to the movies like old times. Our conversations went from what kind of cooties girls had and how unbelievably gross they were, to the crushes he had and who was hot. Every weekend it never ceased to amaze me how much he'd grown up - from this 8 year old I used to pick up and lug into the car, to this man towering over me, or drinking a beer on Christmas eve (under the shadow of a mustache!).

I'd run into Marty when he was out with friends occasionally but he never developed the "I'm too cool to talk to you" that lots of teenagers do. I loved hearing about his sledge hockey exploits or how his job at McDonald's was going or how big his nephews were getting. He even rushed back from the airport to come to our wedding reception and wish us well. He's always been a good, thoughtful kid, someone any parent would be very proud of. He's taught me a great deal about people who have disabilities, how they cope with the physical limitations of their bodies, and how the world reacts to them (probably the biggest lesson). And now, he's off in college full of ambitions I have no doubt he will achieve.

Happy 21st birthday, Farty Marty. I'm so proud of you.

(Now try not to get too hammered tonight, okay?)


Teena said...

Happy birthday! What a nice tribute :)

mamatulip said...

I'm a bit teary now after reading that.

Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

it's nice to have a life long friendship like that..hold on to it you can never have enough.....Happy Birthday.......

DebbieDoesLife said...

What a great story! I just don't want you making up any nickname for me - Farty Marty. Heh.

Jay said...

That's really awesome, for both of you.

Heather said...

Teena: Thanks.

mamatulip: I got teary writing it, especially after the "I love you, man" when I sent him the link.

anonymous: It's funny that despite the age gap we're more like friends now.

debbiedoeslife: No nicknames, I promise.

Jay: You're so right.

Nancy said...

Oh, that is so cool. I'm guessing he loved it, right?

Happy Belated Birthday to Marty!

TB said...

Such a good thing to give of your time and mentor someone with a disability and I know from personal experience that you received just as much from the experience (if not more) than he did. My sister is developmentally disabled and people almost always discount her as not being able to do things. It means so much to someone with a disability to just be treated like the normal, if different, human beings that they are.