My favorite radio station, KCRW (I’m listening to Metropolis as I write this),was accidentally removed from the button on my car radio. I had been too busy to focus on fixing it so I got out of the habit of listening to the station. Well, today I have it back. Although I found music to listen to on other stations, I missed that wonderful experience of being surprised and touched by music and stories that I don’t hear on other stations. I may be a bit strange (don’t we all wonder if that isn’t true?) or just easily moved, but twice today when I was driving my eyes were tearing up as I listened. At lunch time, I was listening to The World as the death of L’Abbe Pierre was reported:

“One of France’s most beloved figures died today. L’Abbe Pierre was an outspoken defender of the homeless, and many French considered the Catholic priest to be the country’s conscience. “

It was a combination of listening to L’Abbe Pierre’s words in French (which I love) and hearing the way he championed the cause of the homeless in France. “He fought for parliament to pass a law – which still remains on the books – forbidding landlords to evict tenants during the cold winter months.”

Then on my way home, as I listened (to All Things Considered perhaps?) I heard the news story discussing the term intellectual disabilities vs. mental retardation. As I often do, I only caught a bit of the story, but was immediately engaged by the interviews with “mentally retarded” individuals who gave touching and at times insightful testimony to their interpretation of the labels and the concept of being labeled. One man describing and demonstrating his ability to be wise. This topic was especially meaningful to me because my oldest brother is mentally retarded. I have only met Burrell once. He is one of my half-siblings from my father’s first marriage, growing up in another place and time. On a trip down south (from my DC area home), my father and I (a teen at the time) visited him at the institution where he lives. As I understand it, his brain stopped growing when he was only 2 1/2 years old. What I remember was that he was excited about his upcoming visit home to see his mother. I think of him sometimes. I have other siblings that I hardly know so it is not a unique situation. However, it is strange and sad. My half-sister visits him regularly so I know he is being watched over and safe. Yet, I feel that I have missed out by not knowing him.

4 thoughts on “Drive Time Fragments

  1. Where does your half brother Burrell live now?

  2. Burrell must be over 20 years older than you are.

    That is so sad that for whatever medical reasons, his brain didn’t develop.

  3. He is still in Clinton, SC.

  4. Yes, his younger brother and sister (twins) are 21 years older than I am. His mother would bring him home for weekends and when she became too old to handle that, his sister started coordinating visits. At one point my uncle was the barber at the institution which has a large lovely campus as I recall.

    I can’t imagine what is was like for my father to have that happen to his first born. Very sad.

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