My ex-brother in-law hung out in my couch for several months and in that time he renewed my love of dinosaurs. He was nearly sixty and getting to know him proved to be a challenge. In the beginning I talked and he just listened, usually grunting in agreement without words.
Not until we went on a trip to the library did I begin to glean a small bit of his personality and unknowingly enroll in a semester of dinosaur history evening classes held at my kitchen table. He began to regularly amass and read paleontologist level information about dinosaurs each week and would talk to me about them for hours without referencing any of the materials. Much of what I’d been taught in school seemed ridiculously skewed if I took what he taught as bible. I don’t remember the many facts he rattled off; I only remember his passion for learning about one subject and how it naturally progressed into teaching about the same.
He was in the couch and ready for bed one evening when I decided to get chitty chatty so on I went for ten minutes straight as he stared at me intently when the snoring kicked in.
I’ll stress here, he was staring at me intently when the snoring kicked in.
Not being able to match his focused stare with loud and deep snoring I stared at him in silent contemplation. I moved slowly from side to side to see if his eyes or head would move and for a moment wondered if he was an illusion or if I was so I called his name, he stirred and then blinked. Oh. That’s what had been missing from the one-sided conversation. A blink.
Turns out the stare was not a stare at all and had a name, nocturnal lagophthalmos.
The world considers him ‘touched’ and it’s been over ten years since I’ve seen or spoken to him and it’s likely that I never will again. He was known for disappearing and not wanting to be found.
It isn’t often I think of him but he’s heavy on my heart so this is written to honor his spirit that has gifted me a smile and a tear this evening in memory of our shared moments and for being blessed to bear witness to his passion, learning, teaching and a childlike heart that slept with eyes open not because of fear but because nature made it so.