Rex sat at the head of our table like the king who ordered crab legs for lunch. Lawrence, his Direct Support Provider (DSP), had to crack every one of them for Rex who isn’t physically able to do it for himself. Rex gave Lawrence a hard time, and Lawrence gave Rex a hard time. I’d later learn they have a close friendship in which they rib each other all the time. Despite their talking smack with each other, you could tell each had a respect for the other. Rex, independent for the most part, fed himself. He teased Ashley, Lawrence, and me throughout lunch. Rex is a funny guy who admits he’s full of, um, well, “cow manure.” And he’s good at pulling people’s legs. Upon first meeting him, I told him I worked with Maggie Price. He said without missing a beat, “I’m sorry for you.” I took a second before I realized he was poking fun.
Jerry enjoyed his puree blend of cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato, and fries with ketchup. I was reminded of when my little brother blended spaghetti and meat sauce when we were kids because his jaw was wired shut. You do what you gotta do to eat. To an outsider, eating might appear to be a real hassle, even unappetizing to watch, but dining with the Three Gents of Wendell Foster's Campus (WFC) was quite an experience.
Jerry was enthralled with the sports channel coverage on TV. On this day, the big news was the first round of football playoffs which continuously replayed the Denver Broncos’ game-winning play of an eighty yard pass by Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas. The single overtime play was the talk of the day. Ashley and I talked football and who our favorite teams were. I’d ask Jerry “yes” and “no” questions about football and who his favorite team was. There were times when I felt he wanted to say more, but just couldn’t. I felt frustrated for him. I can’t imagine not being able to say what’s on my mind, and I had no doubt Jerry is a smart man who knows exactly what’s going on around him and what people are saying. This fact became very evident to me as we were leaving the restaurant.
As we were preparing to leave, Jerry moved to a large banner on the restaurant wall listing the NFL Playoff brackets. Jerry had maneuvered his way over to the wall as the DSPs gathered things up and readied the rest of the crew. Noticing he seemed to be studying it hard, I didn’t think much of it. But as we started to leave, he became very excited, which became evident by his involuntary body movement. Jerry was motioning towards the wall with one arm extended as much as it could while leaning in to get closer to the banner. His knuckles finally landed on the bracket words: Green Bay Packers. He’s a Packers fan! He was getting my attention to show me who his favorite team was! I couldn’t believe it! It was a meaningful moment for me because he went to a lot of trouble to put in his two cents worth around Ashley’s and my football conversation. I confirmed by asking him, “Is Green Bay your pick for the playoffs?” to which he said, yep. Knowing he knew I was a Denver Broncos fan, I smiled at him, leaned in, and told him I still liked him anyway. He gave me a smile in response.
Little did I know this interaction would be our last, and I’m so grateful to have had that special moment with Jerry.
In the Next Blog Entry: The Grim Reaper Visits - “I naively believed I wouldn’t have to experience heartbreak or grief around the death of a WFC friend for a long time. But Life happens . . .”
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