I don’t really remember having a hero when I was growing up. Some kids idolize actors, musicians, and athletes. Some kids cite firefighters or other rescue personnel as heroes. Sometimes teachers, even parents. Religious and political figures. And then there are those who have fictional characters as their heroes – movie, book, or cartoon characters and superheroes (I admit, I did have a bizarre crush on Aquaman for a while).

As adults, we often develop different heroes (fortunately, for some of us). Our friends and spouses, for example. Our siblings. For many, parents still head the list. Those of us who are special needs parents often list the teachers and therapists who work with our children as our heroes, not to mention our children themselves, with all that they go through. And then we – parents – have each other. We inspire, listen, support, encourage, and make suggestions. We reach out, share, learn, and hope. We identify with each other.  We are each others’ heroes.

And now I have a new hero to add to the list – the ever-growing list of fellow autism parents I have become fortunate enough to know, either online or in person, or both. I want everyone else to know about him too, because I think he’s phenomenal. I’ll call him Bert. Bert attends the support group that I facilitate. He’s 84 years old and has a son with Asperger’s. Eighty-four! His son is 58, and Bert drives him to work and cares for him. (He recently applied with a local organization that handles adult DD services to get some support systems in place.) Bert reads anything about autism that he can get his hands on, takes notes, and comes to the meetings to tell all of us about what he read. He tells jokes, encourages us to lean on each other (like AA people, he says), and patiently listens to those of us with much younger kids. He reminds us that even though our kids are all different and at different ages, we share many similar experiences. He wears a cute straw hat and plaid shirts and I just want to give him a big hug. All of us inspire each other, but that man, that gentle, devoted, amazing man, is my new hero (sorry, Aquaman).

Bert, I want to be like you when I grow up.

8 thoughts on “Bert

  1. Cheryl

    I don’t think I ever had the pleasure of watching Aqua Man as a child, but from seeing him in the above picuture I can see why you had a crush on him….looks like he’d be pretty hot if he were a “real” person! Ha! But “Burt” is a real person, and he sounds amazing! Too bad there aren’t more “Burts” in the world today! :0)

  2. Kim

    Wow! Sounds like a totally amazing mand!

    I find that my heroes changed as soon as I had my son too. First the NICU nurses were my heroes, and now it is the specialists and teachers, as well as the “blog friends” I have been acquiring over the last year.

    That being said I finally had some time to read backwards through your blog yesterday (that was me if you saw that on your stats!) and you are one of my new heroes!

  3. Corrie

    He sounds wonderful. I’m glad you have such an inspiration in your group. My husband and I have a number “heroes” of our faith from our long time ministry. One said, “When I was younger, I used to run a mile. I was thinking that I’m 80 years old now. If I divided up my life into quarters, I’d be entering my last quarter lap of a mile. I want to be sure that I run it as hard, if not harder, than I ran the first quarter.” He meant figuratively, of course. And I’m confident he’ll win the prize.

  4. Melinda

    Wow. The thought of my 14 y/o HFA someday being 58 scares the hell out of me, but that’s probably because I don’t have a single role model for parenting an adult child with autism. Bert sounds like a good one. Thank you so much for sharing his story with us. A breath of fresh air and a large helping of hope for the future.

  5. Carol

    Bert sounds adorable! I wish I could meet him. Thank you for sharing his story with us!

    I also have been playing “catch-up” in reading your blog for the last couple of months. Pretty cool stuff!

  6. Holly

    Oh such a nice story! And what a great man. I can almost picture him in his straw hat. Sweet!

    Um, never heard of Aqua Man, though! I had a mad crush on the incredible hulk–the David Banner character, not the green monster!;)

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