Growing up with Michael was truly the best gift God could have ever given me. Michael was diagnosed with Autism at 2 years old. Autism? What’s that? Back then, people really didn’t know.
That’s when our lives changed … with that diagnosis.
Michael was able to perfectly say the alphabet before I could (yes, not necessarily a proud moment for me being 17 months older). He could create a complicated labyrinth of toy trains over the entire floor of our living room. He could stack VHS tapes (remember those??) with the accuracy of an architect and create a whole skyline. And his imagination, my goodness … what I wouldn’t give to see the world the way he sees it.
When I sat down to write Nanny and Me, I knew I wanted the story to have a sister and brother for dozens of reasons – all meant to weave a common thread throughout every household. I didn’t have to think too hard about the image I wanted the little boy to take on because, when something is written on your heart, it comes flowing out your fingers.
And, what came out, was Mikey: his brown, curly hair; sweet disposition, dazzling dimples, and eyes full of wonder. Though the little boy does not have Autism in the book, he represents Michael’s essence.
Michael is unable to form certain letters with his tongue, and our family always chuckles when he pronounces something so uniquely. My name is a bit hard for him to say – it would be hard for any child to say! And Michael is, on all accounts, actually a child.
Though he is 28 years old, he is still – in many ways – the little boy in that book …. down to the very toys he plays with to this day.
He carries a black and white, orca whale with him wherever he goes; and that sight means so much to me: that’s my Mikey; that’s his sweetness being shown to the world.
As you read the book, pay special attention to the little boy, and what accompanies him on all his adventures with Nanny …
Michael was born with a goodness and joy about him that lit up the world; and I believe all children have this magic about them: the special power to remind our hearts of innocence. Michael represents all these children; and serves as a reminder that we should always lead with love; patience and respect.
So, my Mikey --- remember that “Forance Fan” loves you; and you made me the woman I am today. How can I thank you? Well, I am not quite sure I ever will be able to, but creating a character in your image is a good start.