I visited with Greg Swindell this morning out at Barton Creek. It's the 25th anniversary of the great Fazio golf course and Swindell will celebrate with a fund raising tournament to help families with autism.
As we talked about the emotional and scary times he's had for the last ten years, caring for his wonderful son, Dawson, it hit home even more, with me.
It was April of 1999 and my son, Brandon, had just turned two. He was happy and healthy and very active. As our only child at the time, it didn't dawn on Kim or me that we should have any worries. Until someone suggested having him checked out because he didn't talk.
Talk? Wouldn't that make the terrible twos even worse? Was it really something to be worried about?
We found out quickly that there were lots of concerns.
Lots of tests were run. Lots of experts were talked to. And lots of sleep started to be lost. Our "perfect" little boy, apparently, wasn't as perfect as we thought.
When autism started being mentioned to us, it almost went in one ear and out the other. It didn't seem possible. Until we started a summer long study/clinic with several other families. And I realized, Brandon had some similar communication troubles as some kids who did have autism.
That was a long summer. Looking at Brandon smile and play, but knowing there was a chance I'd never get to share a "man to man talk" about baseball or football or life.
I've given some speeches about "Finding Your Center", to keep things in control and not lose your cool. And that's an example I always use of one of the toughest times to stay centered and not lose your balance in life and go over the edge.
Slowly, that summer and fall, Brandon started using words. One or two a week for a while. And two years of speech therapy helped him catch up with his peers.
Brandon and I talk all the time now. Especially about sports (big surprise) and about... life. He's a great student, a great athlete, and a great young man.
And when I talk to somebody like my friend Greg Swindell, who still battles autism, it breaks my heart.
We all have our problems. None of us is perfect. But as a parent we want everything to be as perfect as we can for our kids.
You've probably seen Brandon on KVUE at times through the years. Maybe on a Christmas promo. Or his Cat Osterman story. Or his story this year on the "other" Brandon Barnes. He's a great kid and I'm a proud father. And I plan on taking him to Barton Creek on Friday to say hello to people at the Maggie's Hope golf tournament. He'll probably take some pictures you'll see here on kvue.com.
And on our way back to KVUE, we'll have a great talk about how lucky we are and how we should always help people. People like our friend, Greg Swindell, who says he always gets choked up talking about his son.
Choked up with love. Like the love I have for Brandon.