What’s normal? Nov. 20th, 2011
In Grand Falls/ Windsor, NL and we had a great experience with Kyle Osmond. He was made known to us by a few different people who form a circle of concern around him. In a lot of people’s eyes he’s been handicapped by DiGeorge Syndrome, a condition affecting chromosome 22. That doesn’t mean a lot to me but to look at him he appears undersized for his age, he has a speech difficulty, owing to damage to one of his vocal cords during one of many surgeries. I’m told there are numerous problems he’s had over his brief life. I couldn’t see that. All I saw was a child who had an infectious mirth that tickled everyone around him.
He knows a slew of Elvis songs and another slew of BWATOF songs, as well as numerous other musical things that have tickled him over the years. He plays accordion, and well, spoons, garbage bag and most anything else. He listens to his musical choices every day before going to school and is driven to play and sing whenever he can. He’s a smiling kid with a toothy grin that makes everyone around him break out in great big smiles. We first met him in the Exploits Valley Mall.
The Mall, according to my cousin’s wife, is a place where everyone goes to feel sorry for everyone else. I know what she means! It’s the want to reach out to the handicapped or less fortunate with great compassion and sympathy. I love the fact that amongst people in this province a fellow like Kyle can have circles of people known to him through chance meeting concerned enough for his welfare to want to intercede and make him known to others. That aspect of caring is what communities should do and people in this province excel at it. By now about six separate people had told us about Kyle.
Malls are the modern version of the old market place where traders and buyers mix. It’s where humanity displays all its many colours and Fridays present a good cross section of a population. Kyle came by the table where Ray, Wayne and I were signing copies or our recently released Chainsaw Earle book. The first thing he did was ask if we knew Wayne’s song ‘Still Some More To Go” and without much more than that started singing it out loud and he attracted a bunch right away! He’s got a voice caught in the middle of changing; a funny sound and people started laughing and singing along. Kyle is wise enough to embrace what he is and celebrates life! That becomes immediately obvious and inspirational. We were singing along within two lines. He then proceeded to do bits of “Da Yammie” and went straight on into “Is you Appy”! Here was Kyle, “the poor little feller”, givin’ ‘er!
If anyone else there thought for a moment that they had some reason to be glum, well that was forgotten! Here was this little bundle of inspiration, all arms and legs and one big grin making the world around him happy! Several were reaching for five dollar bills and placing in his hand!
If I think about it I can see back through my connections, family, communities, schools, and travels, perhaps hundreds of people who were not considered normal, some handicapped, more were just misfits, some were just socially inept, some excelled. Some were, as we called them, retarded, though that term now is outdated through further understanding of how the mentally handicapped differ; we now have hundreds of ways of unraveling the complexities of the brain and nervous system.
I had a comment from a high school principal a few years back that 93 percent of the children enrolled in that school, (and there were close to 500 at the time, ) had some listed reason, some medical claim to being treated special, or different, to have some problem which made them abnormal.
So if 93% are abnormal what is normal?
All I know is that without the abnormal we’d all look like the crowd on American Soap Operas and what a frightful world that would be! What beautiful complexity we’d have lost to us without an understanding of those who are different. We’d all be homogenized like so many cookies in an assortment box, all slightly different but essentially sugar and white flour. Thank God for those who are different. Is you ‘appy? You gotta be ‘appy! Thanks especially for Kyle Osmond.