Thursday, March 10, 2011

missed appointment

So now – after Donna played the recorder for my brother, and he clearly was delighted by it -- I can still see Alan swaying like a drunken sailor in this posh restaurant in downtown Nyack, where we went to celebrate his 60th Bday -- I”m looking for a music therapist for him. I have no doubt that music therapy is what he must have. The first new thing I've learned about Alan, aside from his insane love of eating out, is that he loves music.

The compilation CD I had going in the car as we headed down to Nyack to meet up with a candidate for the music therapist job includes this very torchy song and -- great surprise to me – Alan grinned when this young singer from the bayous, Amanda Shaw, growled this come hither motif. Alan grinned. Was it possible that he caught the sexual innuendo of the music?. I should have pulled the car onto the shoulder. I don’t think I could have been more surprised than I was right at that moment, sitting next to my 60 year old brother, who's never spoken a word, and who seems supremely a-sexual.

Anyway, the other thing going on, while I was getting over the notion of Alan, my wild and wooly brother, having a universal response, was that I had “invited” my mother to this meeting with the music therapist, taking care to carefully go through the few items of hers that I’ve kept. And I had selected a shiny black bangle with a gold clasp. It’s understated and classy, and completely incompatible with the corduroy jeans and boots I was wearing. It would go more with a black cocktail dress. But I was, I realized, with a … jolt, dressing for my mother! She liked it when I dressed up (it’s not in my nature) and put on makeup. So there we were -- Alan next to me in the front seat, grooving to Amanda Shaw, and me, with a turtle neck that wasn’t stretched out, mascara, her dressy black bangle around my wrist.

And that makes me wonder – was I in some way doing this entire thing as much for my mother as for Alan? Was I trying to make it up to her somehow, help heal the wound that never would heal? And – also, endlessly endlessly, even after her death, working to find my way into her heart?

We stood for half an hour in a small off- the- street foyer that led into an apartment building, every so often, trolling the block looking for someone who looked as though he were looking for someone, and calling his number, to learn that he was nowhere. But I knew immediately that the music therapist had forgotten our appointment.

So Alan and I went and had pizza and then went to a cafĂ© and shared a dessert. On a side street, I found a thrift shop, and while Alan sat in a wooden chair, far more patiently than Al, my husband, ever would have done, I browsed through a huge pile of stuff. (I would never even suggest to Al going into a thrift store after lunch.) But Alan, I’m pretty sure would have sat in that wooden chair for hours, gazing at the hundreds of cups and saucers and sweaters that surrounded him. Again, I had this sense of Alan as this mature person, and at that moment, a charming and endearing person as well.

2 comments:

  1. This is so thoughtful, time-blending, and filled with illuminating moments about you, Alan, your perceptions of Alan, and the legacy of your mother. I'm so glad I had a chance to read it. And how lovely to hear that Alan is so fond of music! I've heard this many times about family members who have Alan's combination of disabilities. Have you heard about Nordoff-Robbins? The friend who told me about it (based in the UK and NYC) said it has done amazing things for her two sons with disabilities, one of whom is verbal and has autism, the other of whom is non-verbal and has CP. Here's their website: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/nordoff/.

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  2. Thanks for that referral. Shall def look into it. I'm also finding out that there are concerts for people with autism, where major rocking, jumping up and down, etc. are encouraged.

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