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good old friend of the month: Gary B

February 24, 2009

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Aaron and Gary B at his 50th Birthday party

Aaron and Gary B at his 50th Birthday party

Gary B is our first “old friend” of the month, a feature intending to celebrate long-term reciprocal relationships with folks with disabilities.    Gary and I turned 40 together, and he showed me how to be supremely gracious walking into a surprise party (which his sister, his friend and I had organized), shaking hands with everyone and thanking them for coming.   He was like royalty and I can’t count the number of times I’ve taken a deep breath and channelled that graciousness.  When he had to have some medical tests, my partner and I stayed with him for a whole weekend and ate nothing but jello.   When I was sick for a couple of months, he was the only person I wanted to talk to and I always felt better.   When my car died, he and his staff came to jump-start me.  He was the best-man at my wedding (a very much considered choice: the Rabbi said “who would you want to be with after a disaster?  Who could you depend on?”) and he gave the toast, with help from an old friend.   He brought his lawyer, companion and ex-staff along to help him through the ceremony!   He introduced me to all the Supreme Court Judges in B.C. at a cocktail party, as someone they’d “surely” want to know.   He and I went camping (that wasn’t my best idea) and on another holiday we stayed at a fancy hotel (that was a great idea) and we went for “all-you-can-eat” sushi (not a good idea) and to the Cannery Restaurant (a good idea).    We figured out how to make bouillabaisse together.  And, having turned 40 together, we went on to turn 50 together.   And he insisted we were 36.    A good idea.  He makes sure I don’t work all the time (another good idea) and that I remember all the holidays and that I do something special for Valentines.   He’s the best listener ever and the best hugger.   He was there when we adopted our child, and insists on including our son in his gatherings even though they sort of drive each other crazy.   He chose our stroller with me (he picked one with a place for our coffee cups and a little storage bin he insisted was for my cigarettes).   He connected me with one of my best mentors, Mildred DeHaan, and shared his most important relationship with me, with his sister, Shirley Birtwistle – two of the most important relationships I’ve had over the last twenty years.   He taught me about the need for individualised supports in a whole different way and that led to our agency learning more about the fullness of that idea, and also which socks to wear with which tie.  I don’t agree with him that you can’t wear that green striped tie with that particular shirt, but on the other hand he always gets more compliments on his clothes than I do when we’re at parties.   I think at this point I’ve met every relative he’s got, and he’s met all of mine.    When he can’t remember much, he can remember my phone number every time.   When I’m at a loss, I can remember how it feels to watch him succeed and then I know what I’m aiming for, whatever the problem.    He knows everyone at Costco, which means we can’t go there unless we’ve got a whole free afternoon.   But he also always knows the best places to park and how to get across the city the quickest way, somehow.  



One Comment leave one →
  1. Jen Morris permalink
    March 9, 2009 6:47 pm

    I had no idea you and Gary were such good friends! That man brings a smile to my face every time I see him.

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