My Brother – The Android
Posted by maxineowen
My younger brother was a bit odd from the very beginning. For the first few years of his life, up to about age nine or ten, he would speak to no one outside of our family. He spoke well enough to anyone within our home, but when it came to other people, even those he saw on a regular basis (like our bus driver or a teacher), he clammed up.
When he was a little boy, it was a cute quirk about his personality. He was a good-looking kid who never made any trouble, so people overlooked his antisocial personality, attributing it to shyness.
As he entered his early teen years, he learned to speak a few words to a few select people. The first time he did this, I believe it was directed at our bus driver, when he stopped by. It was just a few words, something to the effect that our dad wasn’t home. It was progress, though.
He eventually went to work part time for a neighbor. He helped with farm work, which was all he’d ever wanted to do. He would never make the call to the neighbor to ask him if there was any work, though; he always made mom do the calling, even though he knew the guy.
It is strange to me that he was so odd. He certainly had the most normal upbringing of all of us children. He was spoiled rotten, given hugs, had his every whim catered to. None of the abuse that the rest of us suffered ever touched him in any way.
He was so spoiled that mom combed his hair and tied his shoes til he was nine. When they went on a trip to Hawaii that year, she left me specific instructions to do these things for him. I secretly made a plan to make him do it himself.
The first morning after they left, he instructed me to comb his hair. I said, “You’re nine years old. You’re too old to have someone comb your hair. I’m going to show you once; after that, you will do it yourself, ’cause I’m not doing it.”
By the time mom and dad came home, he was doing these things himself. Mom was unhappy, but I knew he had to be allowed to grow up.
The rest of us children left home by the time we were eighteen. My younger brother was still living at home in his early 30s.
He never had to do much outside of the farming experience. He had a few heifers that dad kept for him from the sale of his own farm. From there, he built up his own herd. He did the farm work, with dad’s help, and dad wrote the checks. Dad also dealt with the public, made the phone calls, did the errand running, and anything else that had to be done outside of the barn. My younger brother never had to learn how to do any of those things himself, and he liked it that way.
My brother was renting space at a local farm for a long time. He used the barn and the pasture to raise and care for his cows. It soon seemed like it was time to move on, but my brother didn’t look around himself enough to notice. Things weren’t working out where they were, but my brother wouldn’t leave his comfort zone enough to make other plans.
Dad eventually took it upon himself to look for another farm outside of the state. It was a nice farm, very impressive. My dad told my brother about it and got little response. My dad then took it upon himself to make the plans to sell his own 10.2 acres (left over from our original farm), and use the money for a down payment on the new farm.
My dad enlisted my help in getting my mom to sign off on the property. They had been split up for years, and had no contact. Mom had pretty much lost her mind, so it was a tricky situation. She did eventually sign the papers, but before it all went through the legal system, she died, making the efforts to convince her rather useless.
In all of that time, my brother never said he didn’t want to go. He never said a word. He simply let life happen to him, rather than engaging in it.
They moved four hours away, and my brother was immediately unhappy. He was quick to state that, “This is not me.” As much as dad and I tried to convince him that he could make it work, and that this was a good thing, he refused to accept the change or make something good of it.
Things between dad and my brother got volatile. My brother eventually started hitting my dad whenever he didn’t like something my dad had said or done. I was afraid for my dad.
My brother neglected his duties to his cows, failed to produce enough milk, and did not bring in enough money to feed the cows. They were hungry and crying to be fed, yet, my brother continued on in the same way.
Dad felt so sorry for the cows, that he secretly reported my brother and arranged to have the cows removed. This left my dad and an angry son in the house together more than is healthy.
The farm was eventually sold and my brother ended up staying with our older brother and his family. He was supposed to stay only until he found a job. The problem was, he made no efforts to go out and look for a job. He kept making depressing statements like, “I can’t do that. My brain doesn’t work. Someone’s gonna have to take care of me. I’m not driving.”
By some stroke of luck, he eventually found a farm job that had housing. This was a big relief to him and my brother’s family. He had made no efforts to engage in the family life and did not even seem grateful for being given a place to stay.
His behavior over the past few years had made us wonder about his sanity. We also wondered if he was safe to be around, which I had never doubted til an incident on the farm that he had rented, when he simply exploded on me with no apparent warning.
Recently, his employer went on vacation. My brother would need help on the farm. He asked my brother if he knew anyone that might be willing to help, someone he’d be comfortable around. My brother suggested me. His employer considered me or another guy. He brought it up to me, saying that he wanted my brother to be comfortable, and that he would leave the choice to my brother. I stated that he would choose me, as he never goes out of his comfort zone.
As predicted, he chose me. I helped him for eleven days. By the time I left, I was glad to go.
His moods were erratic, his conversations were repetitive (asking me a question, then asking the same thing a few minutes or even a day later), he had a lot of anger and resentment in him, and he made me worry for my safety. If the subject of our dad came up, he would get angry and aggressive. I made the mistake a few days in, of mentioning that dad asks about him and still loves him. I told him that he would always be dad’s son, and that dad wishes there was a way to make things right with him.
He appeared to roll this over in his mind over the next few days. By the tenth day, he was going through long tirades about how he had lost everything and that it was dad’s and my fault. After hearing this for over two hours, I couldn’t wait to leave. The last day I was there, I stayed only a couple of hours, leaving before milking started.
I had had enough. I wasn’t going to listen to him anymore. I was so close to saying everything that I thought: that he was a spoiled little brat who had been given everything he wanted his whole life, that he had been handed a whole farm on a silver platter, but instead of being grateful, he had run it down, that he had never said that he didn’t want to go, that he should have spoken up for himself, he didn’t say anything, and now he had the nerve to cry about it. I had a whole lot to say, and it probably would have ended with him attacking me.
My thinking was, why push things? After all, how long can you be around someone who is obviously nuts, before you say, “You’re off your stinkin’ rocker”? Yeah…. that wouldn’t have gone over well.
I noticed while I was there, that he does not have the ability to look outside of himself and imagine what others might be feeling (empathy), he has almost no sense of humor, he obviously has no desire to interact with the public, and he only sees the down side of things.
My brother is an android. He is a robot, who looks human, but seems to have no human emotions. He has little to no desire to even mimic “normal” behavior, and may not even know what “normal” is.
He is so much like our mother that it is weird. I don’t know what the future holds for him, but I currently wish to distance myself from him as much as possible.
Mom and dad did him no favors by doing things for him and not making him learn any social skills. As the parent of an Autistic child, I know that I must push my son to learn everything he can to function in the outside world. My brother was never taught those skills and will likely fail because of it.