Thursday, April 3, 2008

Introducing Charles!

This is Charles, in a photo taken on his birthday in August, 2007.Mary Lynn, a member of my on-line art group, sent us an email two days ago. This email resounded with me, touched me, moved me, and made me smile. If anyone would like to send Charles a card, please email me privately at, and I'll send you his address. The email is reprinted here, with Charles' photos, by Mary Lynn's kind permission.

"Hello members. I want to tell you about my brother, Charles. Charles is 58, and mentally challenged. He lives in a home with 5 other "family" members in San Antonio. It was his choice to move to SA many years ago to be near some of his friends. He just loves to work. He has worked in the shelters before, but he wasn't happy doing that kind of work. He had a job with What a Burger, and at his store he was named employee of the year, but then after waiting for a long time, he finally got on at his "dream job" -- The car wash.
Like I said, he loves his job. He does backbreaking vacuuming of the cars, and drying the cars all day long. It doesn't matter if it's near freezing or 105 (which it gets here sometimes) - he is on the job, and doing his best. His boss said that Charles is an inspiration to everyone there, and that he has taught all of the new hires not only how to do their job, but how to be at work on time, in clean clothes, with a smile on their face every day, and do a good day's work, and not to leave until all the work is done. I am so proud of my brother. He has never been a burden to anyone in his family. Instead he is the joy in our lives.

He was doing well, and everything was going great until one day in October. I got a call from Charles' house mother who said that he had broken his arm, and was at the hospital. So my sister Jeannie and I jumped in the car and went down to SA, about a 4.5 to 6 hour drive depending on the traffic. When we got there Charles was in his chair in the living room at his house. He was pretty dopey, and he had his arm in a sling. So, we went to talk to the house mom. She told us that the doctors were not able to set Charles' arm because the break was caused by a tumor on the bone. We continued to talk, and the next day we went with Charles to an oncology doctor. She said that from the xrays she could see that Charles had some form of cancer. As I'm sure you can imagine, we were devastated! We didn't let on to Charles because we didn't want to upset him. The next week the doctor did an biopsy, and sent him to another specialist. Charles has multiple myeloma, which is cancer of the blood, and the cells attach themselves to the bone marrow, and also spread to other organs. They found that he has a large mass at the end of his spine, and that the cancer is in his liver also.

We were told then that Charles only has about 6 months to live, and that it was too late to start any type of treatment plan. He did have a few radiation treatments where the cancer is on the bones so that it will help to prevent them from breaking. His arm cannot heal, and he wears a brace under his clothes to hold his shoulder and arm in place, and then a sling to help support his arm. But he never complains. He is on a really good pain prevention plan, and he is still mobile, but he uses a wheel chair when he goes out.

He wanted to come home for Christmas and we made it fine. Then he wanted to come home for the Easter bunny. He loves to fly home (and he works and pays for his on plane tickets), but the doctor won't allow him to, so usually I go get him, since Sis is at work, and I am retired. I went down on Thursday, and it was a long drive back for him this time, and he was very tired when we got here. He ate just a snack, and took his meds and went to bed. The next day he was in better spirits, and talking about the Easter bunny, and the eggs. We had a wonderful Easter, and he got a big basket from the bunny filled with all kinds of snacks and candies, and crackers, etc. We had a huge ham for lunch, and Charles really ate.

We took Charles back home on Monday, and again he was tired, but really feeling weak. Sis and I decided that Charles can't make it back here again in the car. Since October, we have gone down to SA every other weekend if things are going OK, or we go every week, sometimes twice a week to see about him, or to see his doctors or the company that owns Charles' home.

I am asking you for something. First, your prayers for Charles that he never has to suffer any pain, and that he slips away in his sleep. We did have to tell Charles that he has cancer, but that doesn't mean anything to him. He knows that I lost my husband to cancer, but Charles doesn't understand death. We told him that one day he would go see mom and dad again, and Perlow (that's what he always called my husband).

The second thing that I am asking you for is a card sent to my brother. Charles loves to get mail, and he can't count money, but if you send him a dollar he will be happiest man on earth. His bank account is low because he hasn't been working, not that he wants for anything, but he really loves a dollar in his wallet, and he will go with a worker from the home to drink coffee at Denny's or to get a Coke. He loves coffee. Charles is a cowboy. He lives for western movies, and Walker, Texas Ranger, but now he watches Gibbs on NCIS too. He thinks the Dallas Cowboys are the greatest, and he doesn't care if they win or loose, he just likes to watch them. He has always worn books, a western hat, and a western belt with a nice big buckle, and sometimes he will wear his bolo tie, his turquoise ring, and his sheriff's badge.
Well, this must be the world's longest email, but I really wanted you to know that there is this wonderful man out there that really cares about things, and loves people. If you don't have an extra dollar, that's OK. He is fine without it, but I hope you can send him a card or a note just to say hi, and if you don't have the time right now to send a card, then would you please just take a second and say a little prayer for the greatest brother in the world, Charles.
Here is Charles, again, photo taken this Easter. Quite a change, but there's that smile!
Outside front & back of my card for Charles. I had such a blast doing this, I'm going to continue doing one (minimum) every week!
Inside of card.
Insert, and envelope.


Carolina said...

Ms. Toni - you have been given an award by little 'ol me...swing by my blog when you have a second!

Your card for Charles is amazing - he'll love it. I'm putting the final touches on it and hope to have it postal by tomorrow!

Laurel said...

What an amazing card! He is going to love it. I love your new blog.

a message from gillyflower said...

what a great new blog
brill card for charles i bet he'll love it
such a wonderful story about a wonderful man
would love to send him some cards i have emailed you for the info
bye for now

Veronica said...

you know I cried when I read the post from M about this and I just cried like a baby again when I read it here. I like you will make it my mission to send him a card and some little pocket money every single week. My uncle Donnie was the exact same way. He too would love to have a dollar in his pocket to go to the diner for a cup of coffee or a danish or buy him a candy bar. He wasn't supposed to eat candy bars but..... with his dollar he sure did.
Daily prayers are in store for Charles each and every day. I mean my god look at that face. I just want to get on a plane and fly down there just to talk to charles.
crap I hate to cry. Very touching story and very motivating one too

Veronica said...

I forgot to say how beautiful your card to Charles is...
You touched on his favorite things. Beautiful