Family and Friends

November 19, 2014

I was afraid of our trip to Poland even more than I dreaded visit to France. Thirteen years have passed since our last family trip to Poland. Thirteen years ago, my mother was alive.  Her husband was alive. We could stay in their house. Robert was 9 years old, and still relatively small. Amanda, 11 years old at that time, was already a great role model for Robert and thus a great help. We, the parents, were not 50 years old yet.  We weren’t rich, but we weren’t as financially stressed, as we are now.

I knew that people usually look differently at 22 years old, big man with autism than they look at 11 years old boy, small for his age.  Yes, I was afraid how Robert would feel and behave in homes of his relatives, and his parents’ friends.  But to some degree, I could predict possible problems a new environment might cause.  What I couldn’t predict was how other people would treat Robert. Moreover,  I couldn’t predict how I would feel and react in response to their attitudes toward Robert.

When Ewa B. welcomed us at the Katowice Airport inviting us for a breakfast, I was both deeply touched and petrified. It was such a great feeling to still have  someone waiting for us, many years after our last trip and yet I was afraid how Robert would behave, and how he will be treated. I tried to decline the invitation, but Ewa’s will was stronger than mine. Four of us, Robert, Amanda, Jan, and I,  came for a wonderful breakfast. The best cheeses, one of a kind hot sausages, fresh bread, and strong coffee.  For Robert there were his favorite crackers, as in new places he usually sticks to his comfort food.  As we ate and talked I felt my reserve melting, my fears evaporating.  Robert was welcomed as much as we all were.  And he knew that. He behaved  appropriately despite not understanding the language we were using. At some point, Robert wanted to leave.  He calmly, in his own wordless way, began to clean up the table of already emptied plates and cups. We didn’t mind that as our stomachs were full and we had a long way ahead of us.

After that first visit came many others.  We met our relatives and friends many times during this trip.  We visited their houses, met with them at hotels and at restaurants.  Many people didn’t know English and yet talked to Robert. Although he didn’t understand the words coming from the foreign language, he felt what they were saying because he responded with smiles.


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1 Comment

  1. Jean

     /  November 19, 2014

    Words are only part of the communication. Love was the message he received.


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