When I first started elementary school, our workbook had pictures of objects, and the assignment was to choose the one that was different and did not belong. We would color the pictures and circle the one that wasn’t the same. Later, Sesame Street brought the fun to TV with a song of encouragement. Now, almost daily, I see a screen of numbers or letters and the caption, “It will take a genius…” to figure out, for example, which one of the numbers is an 8 instead of a 9. I’m thinking it doesn’t take a genius to know that you are not a genius just because you spot the one that is different.
I’ve seen two things in the last week that stood out from the norm and were obviously different. First, I was walking the dog one night and heard a rumbling sound as we walked down the driveway that I couldn’t identify. Even the dog was looking around to see what it was. I looked up at the bright twinkling stars and clear sky and couldn’t see anything that would be making the noise.
I walked the dog up the driveway, turned around, and headed back toward the highway. All of a sudden, a low hanging cloud moved swiftly across the sky. The odd shaped cloud barely cleared the apple tree in our yard. At first I thought it was smoke, but I couldn’t smell it and there seemed to be no origin. To be honest, it looked creepy and when I turned my back on it to head toward the house, I felt prickles run across my scalp and had the feeling someone was watching me.
The next odd thing I saw was at the Veterans Cemetery when my son, sister-in-law, and I took flowers to place in front of Jim’s niche. After we placed the flowers, we enjoyed the peaceful beauty of the cemetery. Rob and I walked away from the columbarium toward the headstones. There, not too far from the road, but several feet from the graves, was a vase of artificial flowers with a partially deflated helium balloon attached. It was stuck in the ground and looked pretty much like a fancy lawn dart. We speculated as to why the floral arrangement was in such an odd place. They weren’t the same as all the other flowers placed on the graves.
We sometimes see an anomaly among our fellow human beings. Some people are just different from the others. Since we are all unique, a certain amount of difference is expected.
Jim was one of those rare individuals who marched to his own drum, and did not believe in blindly following the norm. His ideas and beliefs were often delightfully imaginative, and at the same time, his stubbornness could be maddening.
Life can become so mundane and routine that we tend to expect sameness and may not notice when things are unusual. Still, the day Jim forgot his social security number and birth date was the day I realized something was different and that nothing would ever be the same. Later, I tried to remember other clues that indicated the horrible disease that was just beginning to unfold. I couldn’t think of anything that seemed to be outside the norm. Once alerted, I began to notice glitches in his thinking, his abilities, and his personality. The differences seemed to snowball, steadily going downhill and picking up speed.
It was nearly a year before others began to notice Jim’s problems. Up until then, I think they thought I was exaggerating, or that I was the one with a problem.
Yes, we often see things that are different, but instead of really noticing them, they blend in with the minutiae of everyday life. Some differences that come out of a clear blue sky, or are stuck into a grassy knoll, make no impact on the grand scheme of things. But differences that occur in the 100 billion brain cells of someone you love are life changing.
Copyright © May 2019 by L.S. Fisher