Submitted by Shannon Wills, Holcomb
Every year around the holidays, people start thinking about what they are thankful for and want to give others. Growing up, people would ask, “What are you thankful for?” As most children do, I would always respond, “My family, my friends, my toys…” As I got older, my thinking stretched to include more detail and thought. As when I was younger, I am still thankful for my family and friends, but I am thankful for Skylar also, someone I used to take for granted and someone of whom I was afraid when I first met him.
I was around 10 when Skylar and I met. My dad was getting remarried and I was getting a new brother and sister. My brother has cerebral palsy. I didn’t know if he was contagious and I would catch it, so I was afraid to be around him. He kind of talked funny and he had to wear leg braces. It took a few years to really get to know him, but I’m glad I gave it a chance.
Skylar was not like every other child. When I was worried about what other people thought of me when he had food on his face, he was thinking about how good that pizza tasted. When I was worried about people seeing me walking with him in public, he was worried about what he would spend his money on. I was worried and embarrassed and he was carefree.
I remember the time Skylar and I got into a fight. He made me mad, so I hit him. That was a shining moment for our family. While I got in trouble for hitting, my dad and step-mom were so proud. It was the turning point for us. He was no longer “Skylar, my step-brother with a disability”. He was “Skylar, my brother”.
As we got older, he taught me how to be more caring and look out for others. I learned not to just see what was on the outside, but what was on the inside. I consider myself to be very lucky to know him. I am thankful that my children can be around him and know him, as he has also helped them to not be afraid of persons with disabilities.
I am also thankful that I get to see him as much as I do. We get to work together each week and that gives us a chance to grow closer. I always look forward to his brotherly “love”…the getting snapped with rubber bands, getting pushed in the hallways, and the messes he leaves on my desk. He gets to look forward to my locking him out, taking his notebooks, and giving him noogies. It‘s a perfect example of a normal brother-sister relationship.
I no longer worry about the food on his face, or the way he walks. I worry about the kind of girl he will marry and what he will name his first child. I think Shannon is a good name, don’t you?
So, as we think back and reflect on the year and the things we are thankful for, I remember my childhood. This year for the holidays, I’m thankful for my family, I’m thankful for my friends, and I’m thankful for my brother, Skylar, “King of Rubber Bands”.