Life and Friendship

Author: robertinseattle

Just posted this on Facebook and sharing here with everyone else too. Especially the graphic that didn’t show up clearly on FB!

OK – a very late TBT story to post up tonight.

For some reason, a lot of old memories have been popping up lately. Probably another round of changes still surfacing from that severe concussion I got back in 2010 and the side effects that came after a full round of hyperbaric oxygen therapy a couple of years ago. (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!)

Anyway, when I first arrived at my junior high school (Tower Road School) after 6 years at Morris Street School, I was bullied during much of my first year. Some of it definitely had to do with being different; a geeky Chinese kid showing up among a bunch of white, upper middle-class kids who had all gone to school together since kindergarten definitely made me an outsider. One kid in particular was the lead bully and it truly made my first year of junior high miserable.

But at one point during Grade 8, this gangly, shy kid showed up in our class and I was no longer the weird outsider kid. I still remember Peter (wish I remembered his last name.) He was a little slow, awkward and very withdrawn. Thinking back on it now, I have no doubt that Peter would have been diagnosed today as severely autistic. I watched him get picked on and mocked by some of the same kids who harassed me earlier and completely empathized with his situation. And I was glad I never even tried to join in with his tormentors to fit in now that I was no longer the new kid being picked on. (Happens more than you think.)

I would talk to him a little more every day in an attempt to get to know him better. One day, I ended up walking home with him and to my surprise, he lived in a really nice house close to one of the colleges. (More on that in a minute.) Peter was so happy to have me come over to his house and wanted to show me all the prized toys in his collection. He would run off to his room and bring out more and more toy soldiers and other treasures to show me. At one point, his Mother ended up coming into the living room and smiled warmly at me when Peter introduced me as his best friend, Robert, from school.

As Peter ran back to his room for another armful of treasures, his Mother turned to me with another smile and said, “Thank you for being a friend to Peter! He doesn’t have any friends.” She explained to me that Peter was “different” and most of the kids he went to school with never got close to him wherever they lived. She was so grateful that I spent time with him that afternoon. Over the next few weeks, I got to know him better as we spent more time together and he began opening up to me.

Sadly, a month or two later, Peter just stopped coming to school. I thought maybe he was sick so it wasn’t until a week or so later before I finally headed over to his house after school one afternoon to check up on him. But when I got to his house, I quickly realized that it was empty and they had moved away! Back then, I had no idea of how to even start to find out where Peter and his family had moved.

Here’s a clue on his family: I did find out much later that his father was the President of the Nova Scotia Technical College (now part of Dalhousie University) where our Dad had actually received his Civil Engineering degree years back). Apparently, he had gotten an offer from another college and they had to move away immediately in order to take the position. I’m hoping that a few of my friends back in Halifax might be able to network around and give me some clues on who they were and if they might even remember Peter and where they may have gone. I would definitely love to find Peter again!

So what motivated me to sit down and write this old memory out to everyone? Another friend sent me one of those Internet pieces about Life and Friendship and it really touched me. I’m attaching it as a picture with this post.

Hope some of my friends can help me find Peter through Facebook by sharing this around!


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