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Holly&Jim

Source: Holly Haze / Holly Haze

 

Meet my brother Jimmy. He is five years older than I am. My mom had a normal pregnancy with Jimmy; however he was not given enough oxygen at birth and suffered brain damage during delivery. My mom suspected something was wrong because of his skin tone, but this was the early 60s and being your own advocate wasn’t really a thing. Jimmy “looked” normal. It wasn’t until he almost 2 that his condition was evident. I vividly remember when this photo was taken on Marco Island, Florida. Even though I am the little sister, I always took care of him. Mom always said “watch your brother, don’t let him eat the sand!” He still ate the sand. Look at me looking up at him. This picture says a lot to me.

Shortly after I was born, my father passed away suddenly from an aneurysm. My mom had her hands full with a newborn and a disabled child. As Jimmy got older he became stronger. My mom could not control him as easily as she could when he was little. He started having seizures and becoming a little bit of a physical threat to me, due to strength, not malice. I don’t think it was ever her intent to put my brother in a facility that specialized in disabled children and finding the perfect one was quite daunting for her, as you can imagine.

When my mom was fading and declining with Alzheimers, I promised her that when she passed away I would take over and make sure Jimmy was OK. I have done my best to honor that. My siblings and I go visit him as often as we can.

Thankfully he does not know any of the hatred that’s going on in the world. Imagine a life where you know no religion, no race, no division, no politics. I don’t have to imagine it, I just have to look at my brother to see what a life like that is like. His smile says it all. My mom used to think it was funny when she said he was the child that gave her the least amount of stress. As a mom, I now understand what she meant. He was always safe. He never had a cavity or cold (until Covid). (That should tell you what stress does to the body!)

I think Jimmy knows more than he lets us think he knows. He has the mentality of roughly a three year old and does not have a vast vocabulary. He knows fewer than 10 words. For my entire life he never said my name. It was almost like the “L” in Holly was too hard for him. My mom used to say, he knows your name he’s just messing with you. His favorite word on the planet was always “mommy”. He still says it once in a while when he see a picture of her, but now his favorite word is Holly. He says “Holly here Holly here” non-stop. 🙂

Every few months I fly down to check on him. I’m happy to share my special angel of a brother with you.

I have never known a life without Jimmy. I am afraid to ever find out what that is like. Growing up with a disabled sibling has been the most humbling and beautiful experience. He has taught me so much compassion. If you know, you know.

Meet Jimmy

Holly Haze's brother

Source: Holly Haze / Holly Haze