Chuck could best described as 'rain man, but with a lot more personality'. Like Raymond, Chuck has this remarkable ability with numbers. If you'll recall in the movie "Rain Man", Raymond computerized numeric factors and sums in his head. Well, Chuck memorizes entire phone books. "Oh look! There's Jane Smith - her number is 555-6623. " Or "There goes Bob Jones. 555-1234. Or he'll just simply point at a passer-by and mutter, "555-3321."
"But the strangest calls were from a guy that kept calling back 'just to talk.' He'd ask really wierd things, "do you have a dog? What's his name? How about a cat? You don't have a cat? How come? Don't you like cats?"
My mother turned white. "What was his name?" she asked, afraid to hear the answer.
When he was 10 years old he bit a huge chunk out of the dash of Mama's brand spanking new car. Imagine the look on the dealership repairmans face when he saw a huge gaping whole in the console with bite marks circling it.
He's been known to swallow a car key, contact lenses and pull hotel fire alarms.
When he gets tired his autistic ways will set in and he'll lay in bed and rock back and forth, singing. This is a big problem when it's 3:00 am, you're desparately trying to get some sleep and all you hear is him singing every single solitary word of "Amazing Grace," over and over and over and over until he goes to sleep. Um, did I mention that sometimes he has a problem with insomnia? Yeah.
Every relationship I ever had with anyone my whole life was determined by how they treated Chuck. I watched with an Eagle Eye how potential boyfriends reacted to him. In my mind a guy that was mean or indifferent to someone who is retarded was not someone I wanted in my life.
When I started dating Mr. T and he insisted that we bring Chuck along at least once a month I sat up and took notice. When he didn't complain when Chuck cried and threw a fit about little things, nor did he get even the slightest bit irritated when Chuck insisted on sitting between us and wouldn't let him hold my hand, and yet he still wanted to bring Chuck along, I knew this was the guy for me.
Chuck could be a handful. One time when my oldest daughter was about 4, he came to stay with us for the weekend. For whatever reason he got mad at me and started calling me names. Mr. T promptly packed him up and took him back home. A few days later I overheard Rachael telling my mom, "Dad had to take Unca Chuck back home because he called Mommy an 'astrodog.' " (doesn't take much to figure out that, of course, is not what he called me. Ahem!)
In his old age, Chuck, like the rest of us has settled down. He still keeps us in stitches but he's a lot more mellow. He loves my children and I am proud of the way they treat him. Never have they ever been embarrassed or ashamed to be seen with him and they are incredibly patient with him.
I think Will summed it up best when at 3 he said to me, "Mommy, I wuv Uncle Chuck."
"I love him too, William. He's my brother."
"Yes, but he's my fwend."
I'm glad to see that 'badge of honor' passing to another generation.
Until next time,