Life with David
David grew up in a waterfront mansion, the product of one of the oldest families in Sussex County. The antique estate is Southern style, with three deep water docks and a pontoon boat tied to the bulkhead.
Back during his childhood, Delaware was a segregated state — and David went to the “colored school” because of his mental capacity. That’s just what they did then, and so, while he came from wealth and privilege, his day to day looked more like that of any African American growing up in this area during the 1950’s.
Except, he had a drivers license — or at least, he drove. Until a bad accident, and then the driving stopped.
He still asks why they took his license.
I didn’t know the family very well, though I did do a family portrait before the death of David’s mother, and recent death of his father. David’s survived by two brothers — and his family provides everything he needs. He wants for nothing.
When I met Matthew, he was managing a school for students with challenges. Some of those students were severely ADHD, some autistic — none fit into a public school. So, Matt and an associate founded an alternate institution, and the school still exists, although Matthew burned out and moved to the beach. When David’s family found out he was here, planning to start a new project catering to special needs adults, they asked him to take care of David. It seemed like a good fit: Matthew had known the family for a very long time.
David moved in with Matthew. And later, of course, I joined the house.
Through the years, Matthew has pieced together existing services, new concepts, and a network of caregivers to help others with challenges. That is, until my business exploded in my face — and we decided to focus our efforts on US Event Photos. Matt still works with local special needs adults when time permits, but I’ve effectively stolen him. For that, I’m actually sorry — he is missed in the community.
But now David is an integral part of our family. And, so, every morning I’m home I wake up to his shrill alarm clock followed by his music, recorded from scratchy, dusty albums onto an 8-track tape, then re-recorded onto a cd, which plays on a continuous loop.
“On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed…”
And, while the music plays, I tap out my blog.
“It rolled off the table, and under a bush…”
Or, I email a proposal to a prospective client.
“And then my poor meatball, was nothing but mush…”
The best thing about living with David is his ability to focus completely on himself. We’ll be driving down the road, and someone will honk, perturbed the car in front of them didn’t go fast enough through the light, which just turned green.
“How do they know me?” David always asks.
“I don’t know, David, maybe you grew up with them.”
And then there’s the work drama. David works with a group called Chimes, and they provide employment. David is most proud of this — he cleans the local county courthouses. He and his co-workers take out trash, mop the floor, clean the bathrooms. But there is always drama.
Two nights ago. David came home, I was watching reruns of Spartacus. I paused the on demand, “How was your day, Daivd.”
“Manny stole my Fig Newtons and ate them. He’s in trouble. Yes he is. He’s always stealing other people’s food and eating it.”
Sigh. “You know Manny’s a friend, right?”
“Did he have a lunch?”
“Maybe he was just really hungry and didn’t think you’d give them to you. You would have if he asked, right?”
David looked at me like I was crazy. Silence as he tried to figure out how to tell me he would NOT have given Manny the Fig Newtons. You could see his wheels turning.
“He’s a thief.”
David loves slots. Part of that love comes from his captivation with lights and sound, and part with his fascination with money. Worse, he wins at slots. That only reinforces the entire drama, and he begs Matthew and I to take him on a regular basis.
“What are we doing this weekend?” He’ll ask when we’re home, “I don’t know.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to go to Delaware Park, get a new Gold Card, and win some M O N E Y.”
“Why don’t we do something else, David, you were just at Delaware Park.”
“No, I want to win some M O N E Y.”
It’s time to get my day going. David’s 8-track has ended, and the clock is ticking to the start of my day. He’ll go off to work, I have to run for a GOES interview to speed up going through customs in my travels. When I’m home later, he’ll come in the door, I’ll pause the TV, and ask how his day was.
What he doesn’t know, is in his lunch I packed an extra pack of Fig Newtons for Manny, along with an extra sandwich and chips.
Let the peaceful time reign.