Friday, November 30, 2012
A Son and His Dad
I read this article with great interest. My interest was piqued by several things. First there was the human interest and the seemingly random distribution of pain among all classes of us. It was also fascinating because it sort of mirrored by own relationship with my father in my formative years. Then there was the realization that the Fournier father-son were especially blessed in their encounter by the fact that this family had the resources available to them to obtain professional help they needed to make the paternal-filial relationship come into bloom. The relationship between the two principals was also blessed by a gift that very few people enjoy: the ability to bring into play the father's professional relationships with two former presidents of the US.
This distribution of pain which is seemingly random and perhaps even chaotic reminds me that we are all stardust essentially and products of the Big Bang which apparently is continuing to this day when you listen to cosmologists speak and ponder what they are saying. Who knows what the cause of Aspergers is in reality perhaps it is also the mal-formation of stardust that's been reformulated into the human brain.
My own father who was the fourth child of his family lost his father and a sibling during the influenza epidemic that terrorized the world in 1918 and he came of age during the Great Depression. This article made me think of my own father and my relationship with him because he was a jock in his off and on again high school years playing football and dabbling in horticulture as a member of the gladiolus society at Manual Arts high school in Los Angeles. As his son I suspect I was a bit of a disappointment because I was not athletically inclined as a kid. I didn't even really enjoy watching sports on the television growing up. I think he and I went to a grand total of two sporting events, a Los Angeles Rams game and a Los Angeles Dodgers game, both of those at the Los Angeles Coliseum before the Dodgers moved to Chavez Ravine. Because I was relatively tall I was forced into basketball and because I frequently tripped over my own feet and grace was a stranger to me, I frankly sucked at it. Later in life a friend told me that my view of basketball was 'ten misshapen men running around in their underwear'. I am slightly more enlightened on that now but not much. One of my great fears growing up was that I would lose my father to some horrible accident or disease. As a consequence of my disinclination to sports I was much more interested in reading. I devoured every science fiction book I could get my hands on in the library. I am still a devotee of both Isaac Asimov and the late great Robert Heinlein. I don't think Dad and I were friends and I am sure I was a disappointment to him. My father was good ballroom dancer and I pretty much sucked at all forms of dance and to this day I have to be led onto the dance floor by demon rum or some similar substance. My dad never seemed to take an interest in improving our relationship. Not from a lack of interest but because he didn't know how to do that. His formal education never went beyond high school. He was definitely consumed in just making a living for himself and his family. He was most definitely not abusive. I don't want anyone to draw that conclusion. I just think that he didn't know how to draw close to me because I wasn't of his world. As for me I was fearful of losing him and I had no idea how to please him and take the first step toward befriending him. I am certainly glad that Ron Fournier worked at befriending Tyler and the article certainly shows that Tyler was almost ecstatic over developing that friendship.
One thought that persisted in my head as I read the article and tried relating it to myself was Tyler and Ron were very lucky that the resources were available to them to overcome the raw deal that Aspergers gave them. So many parents and kids of lesser means do not have those resources not because they don't exist but as a simple fact of economic life in 21st century America. The medications and therapies for Tyler and his parents are expensive and I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to what all of that cost the family or some insurer but they had the resources available and they were able to take advantage of them. I am happy for them. But I still wonder about poor kids and poor families, will the opportunities that the Fourniers had available be lost to those kids simply as a fact of economic life? Will those children be lost to our society simply because the powers that be are more concerned with the acquisition of wealth and the protection of that wealth from the tax collector? Are the aspies, as they are called to be lost to us as a society because of greed and avarice? I certainly hope that isn't the case.
And of course there is no way to quantify the impact that Ron Fornier's connection with powerful people such as two former presidents of the US had on the development of his son.