Once a month, my brother toils through the after work Houston traffic to make the drive to San Antonio. His little red car pulls into the front of our house a little before 9 PM, and he lopes into the front door with a broad smile. He ignores Koi’s yapping as he heads straight for the spare bedroom to deposit his bag. My mother, in anticipation of a visit from Charles, usually fights to stay awake on the nights of his arrival. They’ll exchange a few words, a hug and kiss, and then she’ll ask one of us to take her to bed.
Mom musters extra energy for Charles’s weekend visits. She’ll pick a favorite restaurant for an early lunch and offer to pick up the tab for all of us! She’ll sit on the couch with my brother, watching the movies or shows he prefers. She’ll haltingly chat about her health and ask him about his life. A huge part of the time, though, they sit in comfortable silence.
Happiness oozes from my brother. He lives a simple life. He enjoys the little things that come his way and never wastes time bemoaning life’s travails. He hates asking others for help, yet he is the first one to offer assistance if he can.
For now, I treasure the weekend visits with my brother. His presence means we get time. Today, after my mother treats everyone to lunch, David and I will head out to trim hedges and clear out the front garden bed, chores we could do individually during the weekends when my brother doesn’t visit, but which we enjoy doing together when we can.
With Huntington’s Disease, each of us have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. My mother’s late onset means that although we may be symptom free at this time, we could begin expressing the early symptoms soon. I try to prepare myself for the fact that all three of us could end up dealing with HD again, but I dread the thought of Charles being affected. I guess because he’s my “little brother” I long to protect him from this hardship. He’s single and doesn’t have a high income. If HD impacts his life within the next few years, it will wreck the balance of his world.
Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman