It’s Going to be a Mess

I’ve been watching some videos that I took years ago of my brother Michael and me. Mike is my older brother, who is low functioning, autistic and nonverbal. For me, an ongoing issue is whether my memory is faithful to actual events. It is important to me, although I’m not sure why. The videos refresh my memory.

Mike and I took a ‘vacation’, together with his fellow housemates in 1996. My memory of this adventure consists of several scenes that I can play back in my mind’s eye: The long, noisy bus trip in the rain; flashbacks to the dining hall; and most of all, the difficulty in taking care of him. The latter memory is more a summary of images than any one in particular. It was particularly hard, since part of my self-imposed agenda was to document the experience.

My previous posts (My Vacation with Michael Part 1; My Vacation with Michael Part 2) were taken from the journal entries I made in the midst of that experience.

Video aid

In the video, the bus trip was noisier than I remembered. My camera was mostly trained on Mike. I gave him a sandwich to eat, which he ripped apart in his usual way. I remember with perfect clarity, his backward ‘fling’ of food he didn’t want. The first time I saw him toss the food over his shoulder, I thought it was funny. It was a bit of a stealth move, and he didn’t listen when I told him not to do it.  I was unable to capture an entire fling on camera. Mike may have been making some kind of statement. I never discovered if he did this normally at home, or if it was just an eating-food-on-the-bus thing.

Mike eating on the bus and flinging his food

We did have a connection on the bus of some kind when I offered him my hand.

Mike taking my hand on the bus

He got a little anxious and bit his hand. He does that a lot.

Mike biting his hand, Jack trying to stop him

Dining hall

Watching the video of the group of us going to the dining hall, I remember feeling anxious. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I heard myself in the video saying ‘This is going to be a mess’. I was right. Mike seemed used to this, since he allowed me to wipe his face, hands and shirt of all the food that remained after his meal.

Mike, messy after lunch

I am happy to have a recording of some of our vacation.

Now that I think about it, my memory issues may have an explanation. I probably made the video so that I could show others what it was like. Perhaps I don’t think people believe me if I recall my experiences in mere words.

It is like the fisherman who tells of the monstrous fish that got away: no one believes him. My video is my catch.

8 thoughts on “It’s Going to be a Mess

      • I think M will do fine, I like that everyone I talk to calls me by a different name, it’s what I have been used to most of my life so why change now?
        I’m aware that I haven’t seen you on my blogs for a while, but that’s ok, I really don’t mind. You obviously have no need of my wisdom, which in and of itself is a good thing, [humorously] and I mean that in terms that there is nothing that I can tell you that you could possibly need to know. Visit for entertainment purposes! 🙂
        As for those Illegitimi you mention, they haven’t succeeded thus far, so non sollicitudines ibique!

        Have a great week Jack


        • Dear M,
          I do appreciate your wisdom. Absolutely. I visit, not for entertainment value, but to get my thoughts provoked. Sometimes, a ‘like’ hardly seems adequate and yet to comment would necessitate treading on ground I’m not used to. So, for now I ‘lurk’ your blog. I will continue to read and hopefully grow through your blogs.
          Warm regards,


          • Either way Jack, I’m still very grateful for our friendship, and your visits are of course welcome but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t. I say this all with a big smile and in good humour. I rarely take things so seriously, I’ve done enough of that in my life already and it’s a fruitless endeavour. I should feel so honoured that you could learn anything from me!
            Warm Regards


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  2. My sister Barbara has NEVER and will NEVER eat a real sandwich. Everything must be separate — baloney, american cheese, white bread. It used to also include separate plates but I’ve been able to put the cheese and bread on the same plate lately because the cheese slices are individually wrapped and the cheese doesn’t touch the bread. I’ve heard a number of autistic people share this “one food at a time” syndrome. There is one odd exception, she will eat a grilled cheese sandwich! Weird. And don’t tell me you took Latin in high school. I thought only us Catholic kids did that. (I’ve been a recovering catholic for 55 years now.)


    • My brother is picky in a different way than your sister, I suppose. He is not picky about what he will grab to eat. He pretty much shreds everything before it reaches his mouth. Then, if he doesn’t like it, it is flung (at least, in the bus). Actually, when I used to visit him at lunchtime, the staff at the group home watched him quite closely.

      I did not take Latin in high school. I just try not to let the illegitimi carbarundum me too much.

      Thanks for writing, Anne.



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