Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It's not his name, tho honestly I can't remember how I came to start calling him that. But for so many years now he's been Bubba to me.

Bubba is my brother.
My older brother.

So close in age, it always surprises me that our earliest memories don't seem to match. The result of a brother and sister's individual interpretations of their childhoods I suppose... or at least I hope. We joke about been raised by different families.

Bubba and I were not really close as kids. We were very different with different friends and interests. Tho we were not combative either. We argued rarely and were never rough with each other.

In high school, only 1 year apart, our paths grew even farther from each other. I was popular and on the wild side (ok - far to that side). He was quiet and kept to himself a bit. I was considered the smart one - but really more clever than smart. Mom gave him a hard time about his grades and his unkempt room and all sorts of other nonsense.

When it came time for college we were both expected to attend the private university where our father had been a well respected professor. We had free rides and free reign with a great head start from faculty who still remembered our father fondly over a dozen years after his death.

Bubba went off to school first - but it didn't click for him. His poor high school grades confirmed by his failure to thrive at college.
A year later I left for the same school, leaving Bubba behind living at home.

But Bubba was anything but dumb. With no education he landed himself a job as a case worker. He literally talked himself into a career, a field he works in to this day. Like his father, he is well respected in his work, and liked by his coworkers for his amiable attitude and great sense of humor.

At some point during his adult life Bubba came to realize his earlier difficulties were caused by dyslexia. Finally an answer to what hindered him from being able to muddle his way through reading and writing and learning all those years. Not even he understood why it was just so hard for him. So hard for him to learn and prepare and present - so hard for him, while I skated through barely even going to class and bringing excellent grades home. Even as a young person I realized how frustrating that must have been for him.

But like a blind person might - he learned to compensate. He honed a perfect memory. He absorbed like a sponge. If he heard it once, not only could he remember it and understand it but he could connect and expand on several things based on relation information - pulling it all together. He was like a walking encyclopedia, or perhaps more accurately - a database, and he loved to talk and share. Please note, that as his sister this was more annoying than impressive.

This amazing gift was primarily overlooked. It's simply what got him through life. It helped him advance his career. It helped him fit.

Bubba loved to learn. He lived to learn. I believe if it were not for his disability, or even perhaps if he had been diagnosed - he may have become a scholar. One of those 'professional students', maybe even a professor like his dad.
And at some point he came to realize that an education was actually very important to him.
So once again - he overcame.

Bubba got a diploma.

He found an amazing university doing a progressive degree program which catered to folks with jobs trying to advance their educations. It's a non-traditional adult learning program - tho more intense than most.
Since it was so personalized - the learning experience could be tweaked to his dyslexic limitations. And there he soared.

Not only did he graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Human Development - but Bubba was the keynote speaker as well.

He was eloquent, and funny and touching.

We overheard a professor ask him if he had memorized his words. He spoke with such confidence and poise and it was quite evident he was not reading from a paper.
In true character - he simply chuckled and replied to the professor that he had a written speech but he was not really sure where he laid it down last, surely it must be somewhere...

His wife quietly whispered to us - that in fact he spoke exactly what he had written, as she had read his speech earlier this week.

That's my big brother Bubba.
He is his father's son.
He is a scholar.

Mom would be so proud.


e said...

That is a lovely tribute to your brother. How fortunate you are to have each other!

Anonymous said...

How touching. I'm proud of him & I don't even know him!

elf said...

Congratulations to Bubba. That's a lot to overcome - especially having Marsha Brady's wild doppelganger as a sister.

Trish said...

Glad that Bubba has proven once again, that dyslexics aren't dumb, they just learn differently.

He's an inspiration to all of us who are dyslexic and to any who have put off, beyond the traditional years, finishing an education.

Proud of Bubba from the left coast.

maxine said...

Go Bubba!

(my word varification is polfoo...what is that?)

LilliGirl said...

I bet you are too! Yay Bubba! He can and must an inspiration to so many!

otter said...

That is so cool! I also have learning "issues", I dropped out of high school because of it. I'm working on my second masters now.
Go Bubba!