With No Warning, The Window


Author:  Caroline McGraw

 Since my brother, Willie, has autism, his thoughts are often a mystery.  As such, I look for sudden windows into my brother's mind and heart.  I pay attention.  I know better than to know what to expect,but I keep trying.  I remember a time one such 'window' opened:  during the long-ago era when my brother was obsessed with 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.'  He had all seven stuffed dwarfs, and he loved to line them up in a row.  He referred to himself as 'Grumpy'' or 'Happy' depending on his mood.  I realize now that the film was probably an excellent way for him as a boy with autism to learn about identifying emotion, since each dwarf is typecast and consistent in facial expression throughout the story  One day, my parents asked him, "Willie, if you're Happy [he was Happy that day], who is Mommy?"  For reasons inexplicable, Willie replied, "Mommy is Bashful!" [Author's note:  Mommy is not bashful.  However, Bashful is a very thoughtful, kind dwarf, so perhaps this was behind the choice.]  My mom then asked, "And who is Daddy?"  Willie said, "Daddy is Doc!"  [Author's note: this choice seems a bit more logical.  My father wears glasses, has a calm, direct way of expressing himself.  He has a quirky sense of humor, and he's a natural leader.]  Finally, my mom asked, "And who is your sister, Caroline?"  With no hesitation, Willie said, "Caroline is Snow White!"  So there you have it.  To my brother, I'm a Disney princess.  He may not be able to say things like, "Caroline, I look up to you," or "Caroline, I'm glad you're my sister," but he can cast me in a starring role in the movie in his mind.  I may not be able to see all I'd like to see of my brother's mind and heart.  But what I can see is astonishing.  He's creative, and hilarious, and generous with his casting. maybe, just maybe, I can only see in part because to see fully would be too much to bear.




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