last night we had a house guest. my cousin came to spend the night with us. he is 31 and has downs syndrome. his parents are my aunt and uncle who are on the cross-country rv road trip. the rock (as my cousin will be known since that is his favorite wrestler) is quite a character and i really enjoyed having him stay with us, but it also made me a bit sad.
he is all about family and wanting to be with his cousins, even more so since our grandma died. aside from his parents he was probably closer to her than any other family member and i can't help wondering exactly how much he comprehends. he knows she is dead and in heaven with our grandpa. a couple of times he got choked up about her and as quickly as the sadness came it was gone. on some levels he has the mentality of a small child--he still vehemently believes in santa--but he also has a strong sense of what is right and wrong. cussing and littering are wrong. being rude is wrong--although he burps and farts at will with no shame.
he can read a bit and he loves painting and participates in art shows. he loves movies, especially horror movies, and has his dvd collection alphabetized. he interacts with people, although i don't think he likes being around a lot of people or having too much stimulation.
being with him this weekend gave me a tiny glimpse of what life must have been like for my aunt and uncle--a couple who, at one time, i could not stand. my uncle was in the navy and my dad was in the army so we did not always live within visiting distance of them, but over the years we did bump into each other. when i was in high school and we were in germany, they were too. we saw them those years more frequently and that's when i really didn't like them much. my aunt was a raging alcoholic. i remember one time when they were visiting i got up one morning and she was drinking gin for breakfast. when i was in college my aunt and uncle were separated and my aunt was living near my grandma. her drinking was really, really bad then. so bad that my grandma had her committed to rehab. i think that was when she started turning herself around.
she and my uncle got back together (they'd separated a few times over the years and even once got divorced and remarried) and she has been sober for at least 15 years and i am always amazed at how much she and my uncle have changed their lives. they have another son, who is 5 years younger than me, and is perhaps as big a fuck up as my sister was. he's been in jail, drugs, dui, theft, etc. he's floated from job to job--yes, he even worked in the carnival. he's now in cooking school in california.
the rock moved into a group home several years ago and really seems to be thriving. he goes to school three days a week, goes to art classes on friday and the weekends he doesn't come home he hangs out with his friends. he loves going to subway and the evil empire (which is what we did w/ him today). he didn't want to go on the road trip w/ my aunt and uncle--he doesn't like the outdoors and traveling like that. he has said though, that if they indeed end up moving out of state he might move with them.