28 June, 2012

John, who will never grow up

John was born almost forty-eight years ago.

But if you ask him how old he he is, he might say sixteen. (He did that for a long time. Perhaps it's because his birthday falls on a 16th.) With his brother, though, he has one answer: I a two-year-old child.

Which, in a way, will always be part-true. Because, you see, John will never grow up. Sure, he needs to be shaved, and he has body hair, and his voice did break at about the right time, and now, though the hair on his head shows no sign of receding—defying genetics and thumbing a nose at his balding kid brother—it has acquired a few sprinkles of gray, and his pale, sun-deprived skin is showing the beginning of a few tiny wrinkles. Sure. But he will always be a child, he will always need to be taken care of.

He hasn't, and probably never will, learned diplomacy, though he can fib if he wants to. He can't articulate all he feels, can't describe physical symptoms, not to his father, who has a hearing problem, or when she was there, his mother, who understood him best of all, or even to his brother, who understands him best now. He never learned to write, or to read. He likes 'looking at pictures,' but quickly tires of it. He doesn't mind TV, but lost interest after his mother died, because she was the one who would tell him what was happening. He loves conversation, and people who talk to him at his level of understanding (too many talk around him), but will settle for noise and bustle around him.

He understands affection, though, and has never learned to hide it.