His name is Anthony John. He is happy to tell you he is 44 years old but will be 45 soon. “44 is out of here!” he likes to say. Those that know him call him “Tony”.
Tony is my wife’s adopted special needs brother. He was taken in as a foster child at birth by her parents after being born to his heroin addict birth mother. My in-laws later adopted him and he has been a fixture in the family ever since.
Mentally and emotionally Tony is roughly 6-8 years old…but high functioning. His biggest challenge is mobility. One of Tony’s primary diagnoses is Cerebral Palsy. In short, his legs don’t work as well as they should.
My man Tony has lived with my wife and I for decades…ever since his mother passed away. She was his caretaker up to that moment. His entire life he has had what is called a “spastic gait” which is medical speak for “he walks funny”.
It’s the kind of walk that draws stares. The stares used to make me angry. But eventually I noticed that they didn’t make Tony angry. One of many lessons he has taught me over the years.
His neurologist has been advising a cane, a walker or a wheelchair for many years. I resisted those implements for those many years. Mostly because I didn’t think he needed them.
Tony has always been unsteady on his feet but the struggle is not to help him move…but rather to slow him down! He is a PASSIONATE walker. And when he falls it’s more of a crumble than a thud. He rarely injures himself during a fall.
However, we all get older and more brittle…so we decided to get him a walker. We named him Walter. Walter the Walker.
The results were very good right out of the gate. Tony was steadier, more confident, and required less assistance almost immediately. You could tell he really appreciated the help. I felt some guilt about having deprived him of it for awhile but had erred on the side of independence which we value highly in this family.
Now that he has had the walker for awhile he has lost some strength in his legs. That might be the effect of having the walker as a crutch….or maybe the effects of age.
Or perhaps both.
Now Walter is a fixture in our family. Tony talks about him like he is his imaginary friend. He is a solid, steady, dependable partner.
Good man that Walter.