Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on June 14, 1998 · Page 42
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 42

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Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 14, 1998
Page:
Page 42
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Continued from previous page dead. My mother said she had no doubt I would succeed in life, even from a wheelchair. "Yes," my father said, "but we can't expect him to look after Pinkie." Though they never put their fear into words, I knew what they meant: Such a sarcastic, smart- mouthed twerp — such a self-centered loner — is never going to take care of his afflicted sister. I wheeled into the room, surprising them, furious, spluttering, close to tears. "I'll take care of her," I said, "of course I will, and better than you ever could." "Oh," my mother said, "I'm sorry you heard that, Mo." "My name isn't Mo!" "Fred." "My name is Danielle," 1 said furiously, and wheeled out. Later, despite all their education and brain power, my parents couldn't find the right words to make amends. Pinkie just hugged me tight and said nothing, which was perfect. A year ago, in the spring, mater and pater brought home a golden retriever puppy, which they named Pegasus. They had read that a dog could be a beneficial socializing influence on autistic children, so maybe it would work with a kid who had Pinkie Syndrome. Unexpressed was the hope that this canine therapist might even have a civilizing effect on a sarcastic twerp- loner-curmudgeon-cripple like me. Fat chance, I thought. Retriever puppies, however, are irresistible. Floppy- eared puddles of fur. Natural-born comedians. Besides, I saw that Pinkie and Pegasus developed an immediate strange bond. Puppies are frisky, with no attention span — yet this one would sit for half an hour, eye to eye with Pinkie, in trancelike communication. For the first time in eight years, summer had a July. By Potts tradition, two weeks before the anniversary of the car crash and for two weeks after, my father unconsciously avoided me. He worked longer hours at the university and hid out in his study. When he did put in an appearance, he was almost as silent as Pinkie. Each July, my mother faded into a gray depression. When the accident occurred, I had been on her lap, my back to the windshield. She thinks that the blow I took was meant for her and that she got out of the car untouched at my expense. There is a black hole in every summer between June and August. Last summer, however, even July was bright because of Pegasus. He couldn't fly like his namesake, but he was a marvel. He toilet-trained in a week. And during his first year, he acquired a circus dog's bag of tricks. He could stand on his hind feet and twirl, do a back flip, balance a ball on his nose. ... The miracle was that no one taught him these things. He seemed to be a born performer. My parents were amazed, but I knew that Pinkie must somehow be training Pegasus during those eye-to- eye staring matches. Training him telepathically maybe, I don't know, but somehow teaching him. And as she taught Pegasus, she appeared to be learning about herself, about who she was and what she could do. She

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