A few weeks back, I was asked, “What have you learned from the guy in the other room?” (referring to Jared). Well, here’s the answer. The key to positive thinking is found in the ability of reframing. Reframing is essentially being able to see the good in an otherwise bad situation. My brother, Jared, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Jared uses an electric wheel chair and about every other disability/therapy devices. Most people would think that this is an absolute nightmare. Jared has a disability, but he is not disabled. Saying someone is disabled, is the same as calling them by their disease or condition. These people have names, feelings, and are human beings. Here’s my favorite video on Ability Awareness. For me, Jared having DMD is actually a blessing. It’s not my parents or the rest of my family that is sacrificing the most. Jared has made the biggest sacrifice. He suffers so I can be a better person. The lessons I’ve learned can only be taught through his suffering. Throughout the years, I’ve learned how to be a little brother and a big brother. This shift happened when I was about 14 years old. If you’ve ever worked with Jared on anything, you’ll know that Jared keeps you accountable. In my head, it’s not my voice telling me I can do better or push harder, it’s Jared’s. He is the reason I push so hard. No matter what I do, I’m doing it for the both of us.
Jared giving the finger to all of his doubters!
Living with Jared has shown me why I must be grateful for the little things in life. There are many things he can’t or has an incredibly hard time doing, but there are a lot of things that he can do. Never take anything for granted because it all can be taken away.
I don’t believe Jared thinks much about his condition. He just rolls through the day like the badass he is! He is rarely negative. His mantra is, “I can do it!” That sentence is typically said with enough sass to put a teenage girl to shame! He honestly dislikes when people try to help him. When he decides he’s going to do something, you best believe he’s going to do it.He is as independent as we allow him to be. The limits of DMD are not opposed by the disease, they’re opposed by the people around the person with DMD. I believe that to be true of all diseases and conditions. Jared won’t let anyone tell him what he can or can’t do. I’ve seen him pick pears from one of our pear trees to give to his dog Penny. There are a few things in this situation that just don’t add up. First off, how the hell can he reach them, he can’t even lift his arms over his head! Second, how did he get to the pear tree! Well with Jared, if there is a will there is a way and he wanted nothing more than to get some pears for one of his best friends. After casually interrogating him, I found that he took an odd route to get there and actually used a broom to knock down the pears for Penny. He simply wanted to help his dog get a snack. He cares so much for others that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help them. This Christmas, He sat down, and hand wrote 200+ Christmas cards for other people with DMD and their families. When he decides he’s going to do something, he goes all out.
Jared working on his Christmas card project.
Jared has taught me that even the little things must be done right each and every time. Everything from adjusting his blanket and pillows to the positioning of the straw in his drink must be to his standards. His high expectations have taught me to do everything the right way. It’s hard to do things right in the short term, but it always pays off in the long term.
Jared is the guy that everyone expects to crack a joke in the middle of church or a funeral. According to him, there is never a bad time for a well-placed fart joke! His sense of humor actually comes from his positivity. Without his positive outlook, he would definitely wouldn’t be joy he is to be around. He’s developed what we passionately call “Jaredisms”. These are different word and saying that he uses all the time that are absolutely hilarious. For example, football is fitball and yogurt is yourget. Sometimes I think he uses these just because he knows they’re funny.
Learning from Jared is an ongoing process and he never stops teaching. I look for every opportunity to absorb any information from him. He may only be 25 years old, but he has more life experience than anyone I know.
Key Lessons from Jared
- There’s Always Time for Humor