Monday, 20 February 2012
In memory of Aaron Silver
Most years I go away for a week in the summer as a volunteer helper with a charity called HCPT. We take a group of adults with various problems to Lourdes in the midi Pyrenees region of France. Some of the group have significant issue, none more so than Aaron.
The first time Aaron attended with us was 2004. He had many medical issues, which required constant help and assistance. Mealtimes were just one time when simple tasks we take for granted sometimes required a team. When I first met Aaron, I wasn't really sure how aware he was of what was going on. As I always take a guitar and take a good deal of time practising, Aaron being a lover of music soon decided that he quite liked keeping me company. Although his vocabulary was limited, he was quite capable of making himself understood. I learned that often his frustration was the reason for bad behaviour.
In many ways I think Aaron made me challenge my own view of life. When I got cross with him, I'd ask myself how I'd be in his shoes. I suspect that this man in a wheelchair was probably the toughest individual I'd ever meet. I cannot think of anyone I know who could take what his daily routine was, even for 24 hours. As such I developed a huge respect for him. Often I'd sit there, working on a song, he'd be there and if he got what I was doing, he'd get a silly grin. Now you're probably thinking that as a member of a pilgrimage group to a Roman Catholic shrine, playing an acoustic guitar, I'd be singing songs in praise of the Lord to him. Far from it, I'm a punk rocker and I was writing songs for the band, editing them in my head, transposing the sound of my 12 string guitar into a distorted electric six string.
I'd often explain to Aaron exactly how the song would sound with the band playing it. One time I brought a CD of the band for him to listen to. He approved and when your friends like your tunes, that is always good. In truth, there were many times when we'd have a laugh. As I mentioned, his vocabulary was limited. It was a mark of esteem when he decided to learn your name, I was "Ogger". The second year he attended, we met at the airport. As soon as he saw me he yelled "Ogger, Ogger" and we picked up where we'd left of 51 weeks before.
Aaron gave me a gift. He made me count my blessings. Would I write this blog, if I hadn't spent the time with him? I doubt I'd have an insight into the challenges of the daily life of many of the people I campaign for. Aaron was extremely lucky to have a family who loved him to bits. That they chose our group to entrust him for a week was a faith I hope we repaid. Sadly many people with his spectrum of difficulties are not so lucky. I happen to believe that as a society we should be judged by how we deal with people in Aarons situation. I mean that individually and collectively.
Thank you my friend, I know you are now in a better place. One day we'll catch Jimi Hendrix at the Pearly Gates bar and I'll buy you that beer we could never share down here. We all have our own personal idea of heaven, that is mine. Aaron Silver RIP
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