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.

Views: 198

Comment by Alison Murchie on October 19, 2012 at 8:57pm

I will correct my typos and grammar in my next post...just felt like sharing this and joining in here...

Comment by Scylla the Rock on October 19, 2012 at 11:56pm

Thank you for sharing this post.  Great post very uplifting.

Comment by Hyblaean~ Julie on October 20, 2012 at 12:36am

yeah...me too

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 20, 2012 at 3:56am

You just never know about how kids like your cousin will turn out.  At one time I had access to a pool where a mother brought her boy who had had rubella during gestation.  He was blind and deaf and swam like a seal.  When he broke through the surface of the water there was a smile from ear to ear and, like your cousin, he liked to dive to the bottom and swim around at all depths.  I have often wondered what happened to him.

I love the fact that no one gave up on your cousin.  Very inspiring.

Comment by Joan H on October 20, 2012 at 4:45am

I'm so happy to read your writing again. This story is wonderful. 

Comment by Jenny on October 20, 2012 at 6:07am

Truly inspirational story. Thank you for sharing!

Comment by Alison Murchie on October 21, 2012 at 12:15pm

oh! maybe i comment here ...I have written long comments twice but been rejected for going beyond the character limit. Be patient with me - I'm used to things that don't work efficiently so just getting used to this system. (which is amazing! Thanks lorianne.) I love all of your repleies, especially Veronica Corso being worried that it would be a terrible story and Rodney sharing his own take on the disabled kid in the pool. Hoka! My biggest worry - shared by all who love him - is how he will express himself sexually. he gets big crushes, and is such a gentle giant (he's over six feet tall and IS Indian Hulk). He likes romance and wants a girlfriend - but maybe at this point just someone to shower with love. You know - girls run away from him while he has big hearts powing out of his eyeballs. I hope he continues to have everything that life has to offer, including an intimate and loving relationship. I think we too often dismiss that part of life for differently abled and challenged people. They aren't just giant children...so thanks so much for reading this and what a pleasure to be here! (I'm sure we aren't supposed to talk about it, but the other place has made me sad recently...)

I'm going to find one of John's amazing fb updates and post it so you can see what i am talking about. Thanks so much!

Comment by tr ig on October 21, 2012 at 12:46pm


Comment by Myriad on October 21, 2012 at 7:46pm

Great post.

I went on FB reluctantly and only because a good friend, who until that point was against FB and not keen on internet generally, went on.  I had to join just to see what he was up to.  And now have become quite fond of it.  I don't have anybody there who expresses disagreeable political opinions, so it's a pleasant place, and excellent to keeping in touch with people whom I seldom see in the flesh.

For someone like your cousin, I can see how FB is a wonderful thing.  Here's wishing the best for him in virtual and real life.

Comment by Alison Murchie on October 23, 2012 at 10:25am

TOOTS MAY WEE peeps it was a great morning woke up in a great mood and jus want to be funny and look its the hulk jus woke up and our creator bless us with that mind set and to seek like a bomb and let charge well peeps the hulk is to smash threw everthing and to say have a good day ha*cha.........

(my cousins status update today. he's very fond of TOOTS MAY WEE. Just wanted to share his words with you...)


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