I lived with my half-brother Troy until the age of 12. He’s a normal brother, like in any normal family. The only difference: he has Down syndrome.
He always calls me his big brother, even though I’m 21 and he’s 37.
I’m of the belief that anyone can be a dick, so nothing there’s stopping my brother. Not even Down syndrome. Most people believe people with Down syndrome are bubbly, they are people who are simple and kind. Sure, my brother is like that sometimes, but that didn’t mean he was cheery 24/7.
When I say my brother is ‘normal’, I mean he’s able to pick on you – just like any other brother would. He would find ways to bug me like turning his head and making faces in my peripheral vision, or poking me. It pissed me off, but I guess real brotherhood is like that.
Troy was embarrassing sometimes too. His Down syndrome enabled him to ignore boundaries. He would ask random girls on dates in public. Sure it was funny, but if we were in a restaurant, it could turn the experience into a cringe-fest.
Speaking of restaurants, his favourite was Wendy’s. My Mom and I would order Troy a cheeseburger combo. Unfortunately that stopped when we found out he had a gluten allergy. Now, whenever we go, he gets a strawberry salad. He eats it quite reluctantly.
His all-time favourite artist happens to be Michael Jackson. Hell, it’s the first thing I think of when I think of Troy.
His favourite songs are ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Thriller.’
Often, we would go to the mall or a store, and he would moonwalk in front of everybody. Sometimes he would do the ‘Thriller’ “creep.”
My brother can get so excited sometimes he doesn’t even know what he is doing.
While Troy is definitely complex in a lot of ways, he is also simple. Whenever I would go down to Saint John on holidays, my Mom, Troy and I would go to Starbucks. Me and my mom would get a coffee, and my brother would get a kids hot chocolate.
One time, I asked him if hot chocolate was his favourite drink, he responded “With a cherry on top.” It might not be the best answer, but it’s good enough for me.
When I think of the relationship between Troy and I, I think of it as tough but rewarding. It can be difficult at times, but what relationship isn’t? I feel that sometimes, we don’t cherish the tough times enough, especially when we go down tough paths with people we love.
Someday, my parents won’t be around. But Troy will. Someday, you’ll need to take care of the people you love. I’ll be the one taking Troy for salads or hot chocolates. And that’s OK. Even though he’s much older than me, I’ll always try my best to be Troy’s “big brother.”