Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Brother Loren: Courage and Hope

Loren's autobiography, front and back covers, designed by his niece Elissa,
my daughter, which came out in August 2010, three months after he died.
 The photo on back cover is our mom reading to Loren. Loren's book
has helped hundreds of readers understand Asperger's Syndrome.

I was pleased to learn that there is growing awareness and lots of services in the Toledo area for people of all ages with Asperger's Syndrome and autism.  This wasn't so when my brother Loren was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s.  How different it would have been if he had had early diagnosis and intervention in his life.  Instead, he coped on his own until he found his own way.  I write this blog in memory of my brother, and for all the Aspies out there who should never give up.

It's my brother Loren's birthday.  It's been three years since he took his last hike on the Aucilla River with the Florida Trail Association.  He would have been 66 years old today.  The good die young.

I lost my soulmate, the person who taught me about facing obstacles with courage and hope.  Loren faced his challenges head on, searching ceaselessly for meaning and purpose in his life.  He accepted his Asperger diagnosis, at age 55, with relief, relief that there was a name for the social challenges he had faced since birth.  Loren was an Aspie with purpose.

He taught me how to see life from a different angle. When I tried to go where he went, to see what he saw, to think as he thought, I was in a new and glorious realm of being.  Loren took me to places I had never been before, to new ways of seeing the world, the transcendent, eternity.

I was the historian but he was the genius who held a myriad of knowledge in his head, and shared it openly, freely; some said too openly and too freely.  Sometimes Loren would get so enthusiastic it was hard to stop him.  He didn't catch those subtle verbal cues and unspoken hints.  It was hard for him, and people got impatient, dismissed him, left him on the margins.  He knew it. He fought it.   
But what knowledge he had, about every subject imaginable! What an awesome cosmic perspective! How generous and compassionate his outreach and his volunteerism.   Sure he often went over the top. But he came to recognize it, to deal with it, to gain in those common social skills that most ordinary mortals learn early on.

But he wouldn't have been Loren if he had been ordinary.  Loren was extraordinary.  He was passionate about life. And the kindest person I ever met.

It's what I loved about him.  It's what I can never replace, what I miss.  How I wish I could believe he's in a better place. "There are no ends in nature, only beginnings," he would say.  My friend Doris believes it.  She said, when I visited her in California a month ago, "I feel his ongoing sprit from another dimension.  He's cheering you on, Fran, as you continue your life's work." 

Loren's memorial bench, in northern Florida.
Some Asperger services in Toledo area: 

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