I can’t believe how little I write on this now.  Ever since Ed got his own apartment and, more importantly, his computer back, his need of me has lessened and we have fallen into a more normal brother/sister relationship.  Our needs are more equal (unless his electric razor breaks…which it has…a lot) and social.

So the experiment worked…my brother and I are in relationship, and a good one, a sweet one, a valued one.  He and I talk once or twice a week, often just for a “what are you up to” sort of conversation.  (If I ask this he says, 100% of the time, “Same old s***.”  It is his standard, like W.C. Fields response to children, “I like children…medium rare,” but with Ed the answer might just be accurate.)

So I got a call a few weeks ago from Ed.  He was very excited, “I want to go see the movie “Jobs”.  The word Jobs was one of the hardest words he and I have ever had to negotiate over the phone.  J’s are hard so even when he spelled it I couldn’t get it for quite some time.   If it wasn’t for the verbal charade clues of “movie” and “take me” I may have never gotten it, which is kind of pathetic because the movie has been a little hyper-advertised.

It is important to note a shift here.  Ed has occasionally asked if we will take him to a movie, but this request was for a specific movie…Jobs.  He didn’t have to tell me why.  I knew.  He wanted to see the movie about Steven Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computers, because Ed’s primary identity is not of a guy in a wheelchair.  He still sees himself an entrepreneur…a businessman.  The other reason he wanted to see this movie is that he and I were in high school as Jobs and Woz (the other co-founder, Steve Wozniak) were working out of a garage about eight miles from our home in the burgeoning Silicone Valley.  They were technology rock stars and we followed their every step of success like the hometown boys who make it to the pros.

On the way to the movie Ed asked how I was doing.  I said, “Alright.”  Another shift.  I always tell him I am fine, but I wasn’t feeling fine.  It had been a hard few weeks in my world.  “Why just alright?” he asked.  “I don’t know, sometimes I just have a hard time…you know…feel down, wonder what I have to offer, notice I am getting older, feel lonely.”

He paused and said, “That’s good to know other people feel like that.”

“I think everyone does at some time or another…you?”  I ask.

“Beth, I’m a guy in a wheel chair,” he said.

I didn’t respond.

He breathed heavily, the kind of heavily that reminds me he is large with very bad circulation…the kind of heavily that reminds me he and I will probably not be having these conversations forever.

“I have to change churches,” he said.

This was an unexpected veer in our drive-to-the-movies talk.

“What?”

“They won’t let me drink the wine anymore.  Someone dips the host in the wine now.  That’s bulls***,” he says.

He is a guy in  wheelchair…that drools…and his hands shake terribly.  I often wondered how long the priest’s patience would hold.  Ed slobbers into The Blood of Christ (even as a little kid I just couldn’t believe that one) and spills it all over the carpet (but if it is the actual blood it must be a bitch to clean out of the indoor-outdoor carpet in the sanctuary.)  Ed is a man of great faith…or love of wine and the after-service donuts, (not my place to judge), and this decision which no one discussed with him is weighing heavy on his heavy frame and heart.  His pain and my own meld like tuning forks to a plucked note.

“Have you talked to them?,” I ask.

“No, I just want to try another church,” he says.

“It might happen in the other church,” I say.  He breathes laboriously as if his thoughts were like climbing a flight of stairs.

“Well then I should talk to them…will you take me sometime,” he asks.

“Yeah.  We’ll go ask, and if they won’t let you drink from it at the other church, we’ll see if they will pour some in a smaller cup for you,” I say.

He brightens, “That’s a really good idea.”

We’re at the theater.  We see the movie about a guy with really good ideas.  Ed and I enjoy the sweeping vistas of the Santa Clara valley where we were raised.  Ed identifies with Steven Jobs’ business mind.  I do not, but my recent funk has been dissolved by my one good idea, taking Ed to see the priest and coming up with a solution.

We wait until after the lights come up so that he can transfer back into his wheelchair safely.  There is no one left in the theater.  With the lights on we can see the three foot radius of popcorn around our seats that Eddie has spilled or spewed during the show.  The sixteen year old who cleans the theater sees the mess, looks to his broom and dustpan that will be inadequate for the job and goes to get a vacuum.  This somehow sends Eddie and I into hysterics.  We are suddenly feeling rather powerful and purposeful and not the least bit lonely.

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