He was annoying, jealous, aggressive; all those things big brothers can be. And I, as the little sister, responded as a little sister would. With jealousy, annoying and aggression. And at times a touch of resentment. Mum always felt that some things had to be Stanley’s. Like the dog was his because he was so very good with dogs. I locked his dog in the laundry once and incurred the wrath of the parents as I had done something to Stanley’s dog. Now those who know me will realise that I am actually a long time breeder of pure bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and adore the dog world. And so I compensated myself for my not having dogs as a child.
Stanley was getting a little hassled at school. He went to Bell Primary School. His schooling is owrth mentioning here. Someone told my Mum that he should go to the Special School. So Mum took him along for assessment. They refused his application, telling my Mum the following: “Don’t put him in here, he is too close to normal”. So a negotiation was done with Bell PS and he was allowed to stay through to Year 7 and Year 8 with a special program. Then he left at 14. I began at the same school at age six. Stanley left as I began.
My gorgeous brother played his mother like a fiddle. It was masterful. He was spoilt rotten and I decided that I loved him totally despite my wanting to fight him, as sisters do. And I got into huge trouble for using him as target practice with books flying around and onto him. This because he had taken my book. (He wasn’t a great reader but could read at about a Grade 3 to 4 level). My books were open to his abuse. Not fair!
So I grew up with the “not fair” syndrome but also with the “loving” syndrome. He grew up and I grew up. My kids came along and they ADORED their Uncle Stan. I came home from work one day and the three of them were lying around the Family Room all crying. They were watching a movie called “Tim”. All about an intellectually disabled man. They travelled with Stan on trains and trams; they talked to him and they loved him. Because despite his intellectual disability he was a top bloke.
Living with a disabled brother who had been spoilt made me aware of how disabling too much protection is. I was determined to work with people with disabilities. So I became a teacher of the deaf. We had a day in the middle of our course when we were all asked why we had come into Special Education? “Put your hands up if you have immediate family who are disablied”. There were one hundred teachers in that lecture theatre and every hand went up. Cousins, brothers, fathers, sisters, aunts, uncles; all represented in those hands that rose. We had all been influenced by someone close with a disability; Or different; or special; or just downright a person who did not get everything they needed to live a totally regular life.
Stan gave me a perspective of life and its possibilities which allowed me to take whatever came. Good/bad, lazy/active, intellectually excellent and the thrill of just learning an extra word. He joined me in following Fitzroy Football Club. He went to all their training sessions. He travelled overseas on his own on cruises and just before he died I got him a motor scooter. He was famous in Euroa for holding up traffic; giving drivers rude signs if they tooted him; and would ring the RACV if he ran out of power. I once asked if he was being a nuisance. The reply was “Don’t worry about him. We have it all under control”. And they did. Even the day he drove across Burton’s Bridge in the middle of the lane at 10kms an hour with a line of twenty five cars following him. Euroa had him under control.
So that funny little man, my brother, taught me more about tolerance and adaptability and kindness than anyone else. He was the nicest bloke and he brought out the best in most people.
Helen Treloar Duggin,