His name is John, although he has a few other names. He was born in Alaska, to a tribe related to my cousins'husband's tribe in Oregon, the Shoshone-Bannock. He was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, adopted by my cousins with two cracked ribs, a broken arm and a broken leg at six months old. Now he is huge, over six feet, with some of the aspects of disability, autisim, fetal alcohol syndrome...but of course he is a miracle of survival at all.
He wasn't a cute baby or an easy one. He did not want to be held. He grew up into a very dark boy, practically non-verbal. Without going too much into family history - and maybe i'll expand on this at some point - my cousin Carol - his adoptive mother - rejected any notion that he would not walk in the sun again.
Everyone said he should be institutionalized, that he would never adapt. She held him tighter through all of his rages. She discovered, as happens, that he could swim like no other...that it became hard to get him out of the pool after hours and hours of diving to the bottom and coming back up. Rules were made for John and his time in the pool - rules that allowed him to be in his element without discipline but that forced him out before his skin became to soft and started wrinking and peeling.
I'm not privy to the mythology of his tribe in Alaska, but know he comes from a place of deep connection with water. I suppose you could also say he was going back to the womb for comfort. If so, he burst out more like a whale than a newborn in those swimming pool sessions when everyone at the YMCA had to admit this kid should be allowed to swim. Not in laps - not even in strides - to dive and sit and burst out and dive again until exhausted by his own communion with this element.
Since then John finished school with his classmates, enrolled at a community college, got his first job at a nursery and was discovered to be the secret of the plant whisperer guy. Not only devoted to his job, John was , to the amazement of his employers, a "natural" at coaxing weak seedlings to life and to making a much higher percentage of transplantings succesful. This was not anything he was taught by his parents who, as far as I know, cannot keep a spider plant alive.
Now John is on Facebook. His spelling is atrocious, but very phonetic. His thoughts spill out, tumble down a path, switch, come back...he goes from calling himself the Indian Hulk to loving his parents to thinking about his past to describing his snack food in about three sentences.
He's 22 years old. In the past few years he has reunited with his birth family ( not his mother or father very much), but his Grandparents and his sisters and brothers and cousins. He spends significant time in Alaska and when he's there, he misses his other family. And when he's in Oregon he misses them. He says that on Facebook. His native family in Alaska tell him to honor the great spirit.
Also, in the past six or so years John has become a very well respected singer of songs in native languanges and performs often at pow wows. He's a good drummer too. He sang for us after my mothers funeral with his father (adptive father) Ed, who is a well known storyteller and poet.
So, sometimes these days, I'm on Facebook and people are posting about the elections and feminism and I'm reading along and collecting links to read and following something and then there's John. Telling me he's eating twinkies but played and sang better than any indian at the pow wow and he is Indian Hulk - Hoka! And may the great spirit bless him and all of us.
And i think, maybe, that's really why Facebook was invented.