The Influence over People Begins
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There were happy milestones along the way, even through the sadness. David had his bar mitzvah. Bruce was four and a half and beyond adorable. We had no way of knowing this would be one of the last family events where we were all living together. Our family loved music, my dog Nippy included. I played the saxophone (my dad’s saxophone) with Nippy howling along to “Heart and Soul,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “Moon River,” and I sang in the high school choir. Favorite music: Motown. David played the clarinet with Mom and Dad singing along as they had both been in their own choirs. Bruce was no exception. He danced and sang to everything. His favorites: Cat Stevens, James Taylor, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton’s “Layla.” He put up with Motown only for me.
Mom was a nervous ninny, worked up about seating arrangements and food. The event was at our synagogue, not at home. Never comfortable hosting dinner parties, cooking was not her forte. We had a caterer, so that meant no cooking. We had a party planner, so no last-minute organizational memory lapses. You would think this affair would be a cakewalk. What was there to be nervous about? “Just wait until you are an adult planning for your children,” she admonished. “Don’t start, Lynne. Don’t aggravate your mother,” my father added his two cents. David, Bruce, and I locked ourselves in my room and helped each other get ready. Once again, managing nicely without them, or in spite of them.
We were off to the synagogue for an amazing day. David had a rich tenor voice then—he’s a baritone now—and sang flawlessly. Bruce, in awe of his big brother, was mesmerized into silence. Next was the party with a seven-piece band, great food, and lots of dancing. Bruce and I never left the dance floor. After two hours of music, the band, a regular with the synagogue, left the stage for a break. Within five minutes, we heard the drums bang with a unique beat. My little brother had climbed onto the drums and was jamming, singing into the microphone, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” People with Down’s are tone deaf, but this was pretty distinct. Well, we joined the jam and so did the band members, middle-aged men in tuxedos playing this psychedelic song. They got back on stage and played around my brother’s beat. He stole the show. People who had never met him were falling in love, asking questions about his handicap and wanting to learn about his “specialness.” It was like watching those UNICEF ambassadors opening the eyes of the world. My neighbors who had been afraid of him wanted to be included in the limelight, claiming, “We’ve known Brucie for years, our children grew up with him.” I finally had my vindication and revenge, shutting them out like they had done to him. Mean, but worth it. The photo of Bruce on the drums still makes me smile. Today, that would have made YouTube with millions of likes. His charismatic world dominance just beginning.
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