‘A Brooks Tale’
It was a cold afternoon and it felt more like winter…than the day before Thanksgiving.
Dennis and I decided, on what is always a relatively slow day on Campus, to find something useful to do.
We decided to take some large, 55 gallon waste receptacles, over to the the Health Service custodial area and our buddy, Gerald, said that he would come with us and help us.
The temperature was in the 20’s and the wind was howling.
‘How many will we need, Mr. Brooks,’ asked Gerald?
‘Let’s take four,’ I responded.
When we got outside, Dennis uttered his annual cold weather remark, ‘It is colder than the balls on a Brass Monkey.’
I grabbed one of the large containers and Dennis hoisted one as well.
Gerald, took two…and they were almost as big as he was.
Dennis and I were laughing and talking about the upcoming holidays and Ray and the cold.
I remarked, ‘where is Gerald?’
‘He is a block behind us…and he is doubled over…as if he is in pain,’ responded Dennis.
We quickly walked back to Gerald and he told us that he had a terrible pain in his chest. When we told him that we would take him to the emergency room…he declined and said that it was somewhat better.
For the remainder of the day…Gerald periodically rubbed his chest and hunched over in his chair…but when asked how he was doing…he said that he would be alright.
I pondered my friends illness and thought that he was young for heart issues…he was 39 years old.
At the time…I was 29.
Gerald had a heart attack over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Each, last, day of the University’s work year, as we received a generous week or more vacation surrounding Christmas and New Years, I reflected on what had happened in my career over the past year.
At times, I was very pleased with what we had been able to accomplish as a department.
The commendation letters that we had received…the special events that we had been able to prepare for and exhibit an excellent appearance…that exemplified the first class education that students received at SIU…and the people that we had been able to help…and offer opportunity to.
At the conclusion of other years…I was happy that it was over…it had been stressful and difficult…and I knew that I had plenty more coming.
When, Astrid, telephoned me and announced that she and others had placed my name in the running for person of the year for the Illinois Rehabilitation Association…I was so very humbled.
She mentioned that if I was selected for the award that my name would be included in the contention for the National Rehabilitation Award given by the National Rehabilitation Association. I was speechless.
It seemed to me that the inclusion of persons with disabilities into our organization…was not only the normal and right thing to do…but that it was a supreme honor to have them working with us and to be our colleagues.
My friend, the Chancellor was terminated short of her first year…in the office.
She had confidence in me and my abilities…that I could not understand.
She wanted to advance me in the organization…although I neither sought advancement nor desired it.
After her termination…she spoke…for years of wanting Mary Jane and I to follow her…when she became a chancellor at another University.
I told Gerald, one day long after his heart attack, that I had enjoyed a dinner at Mary’s Restaurant in Herrin, Illinois, that cost several hundred dollars.
Gerald responded that he had never paid that much money for dinner.
I said, ‘that I had more time than money.’
Gerald, admonished me, ‘do not say that Mr. Brooks…you don’t know that.’
Now, I am about to turn 60 years old.
Was that a dream…or is this?