Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Memories of this winter

december 22 2009

During the night I saw the frost disappearing from our country.
The temperature charts showed a smooth withdrawal to the north, and outside snow changed to rain and soon the dripping began.
Large lumps fell from the roof and splashed so hard on the floor that pieces hit the window, so I didn't dare to go to sleep, but kept a nightwatch, remembering a dear friend and her sister who were killed during christmastime in an obscure carcrash many years ago. Her voice echoing in my mind forever.

Then I heard Kim Peek, the man who inspired Rain Man, has died from a heart attack last saturday.
People have remembered Dustin Hoffman, playing the savant in the movie. Forever changing the way people think about autism.
Still now there are many people thinking that all autists are savants, whereas in truth a maximum of 10% has a special gift developed to great expertise.

Kim Peek's talent was his memory.
He recalled 98% of everything his brains touched. More than twice an average human being can remember and reproduce.
His reading was exceptional. A few seconds per page. The left page with his left eye, the right page with his right.

It made people admire him and accept him for what he was. A person with brain damage, considered autistic, who couldn't even dress himself, and who lived all his life in the care of his father.

It brought tears to my eyes to see that he needed to be shaved, not knowing I would shave my own son too.
And it even brought more tears to my eyes to see how often he couldn't deal with the stresses of daily life, so his father needed to direct his behaviour to prevent worse.

Kim Peek became a celebrity because of his talent. He accepted it as a fact of life, at moments being proud of it.
He found a way to deal with people, mainly because he enjoyed the continuous stream of challenges they posed.

Kim reached the age of 58 and is a part of the memory of many people.
May he rest in peace.



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