When I arrived he was asleep and seemed quite fatigued. He was moved to his wheelchair and we strolled out to the patio where we were joined by Bob and Maria Elena (Cathy's) parents. Daniel chuckled at the story Bob retold about a trip Daniel had taken to Cabo to deliver a Suzuki truck. It took awhile for Daniel to open up but when he gets going he can really share his needs, wants and thinking. On TV he likes sports, his favorite reading material is History Books. He knows the names of letters (I showed him the title of a book I am reading and he named each letter as I pointed to it--just preliminary stuff so I am not sure yet whether he forms letters into words). So you may be thinking that since I teach I am always in that mode when I visit. But to Daniel it's simply an excercise, like excerising his fingers. I showed him his hands and we went to work on moving each of his fingers. He seemed very focused and intent on watching the movements his fingers made with my help. I asked Daniel if this bothered him he said, "no." Then I asked him if he wanted to keep excercising his hand, and he very clearly stated that he wanted to continue.
So, when he responds it is by choice. I have a strong feeling that Daniel is selective about what topics he chooses to use his energy on. And it probably depends on what he is actually able to do or say. He seemingly has access to his full intellectual faculty (I am speaking as a layman here) though articulating his thoughts may take more effort. I shared with him how amazing it was. And he asked me: "What is amazing?" I answered: "That God had spared him his intelligence, the part of his brain where his intellectual thinking takes place." I also told him that this is what defines Daniel, his intelligence, his smartness, and by smartness I mean his ability to accomodate so many varying points of view, to construct knowledge not as objective truth but as a fluid, dynamic and cultural phenomenon all in the name of love for his fellow man.
As others have shared, Daniel has a great sense of humor and likes to keep things upbeat. He is observing and taking it all in (see Jennifers comment about her visit with Daniel in the last post). I noticed, too, that when I moved in gently and spoke softly to him he was very interactive. He told me that he had a headache so we went back to his room to get some tylenol from the nurses. His exact words were "I have a headache." So I touched the front of his head and asked "here?" He responded, "no." I touched the back of his head and asked, "here?" and he answered yes. So we went up to his room to get some tylenol.
I was telling him that I saw the Chivas vs. America (super rivalry) game on Easter Sunday. He became very focused as I became very animated about the game. He literally finishes sentences for me as for example when I explained to him that the yellow team (and he said "America") actually controlled the game...that by all appearances America was dominating because they had more...pause...then Daniel responds: "opportunities." What I meant to say was more shots, as in scoring attempts, but Daniel's word choice is actually better.
At this point, I stopped and said this to Daniel: "Now you ask me a question."
Daniel's reply: "What was the score?"
Chivas won the game with a solitary goal. The score was one to zero. Of course, I was so shocked by Daniel's ability to form this question, that I completely forgot the score...so I stammered some numbers, before finally settling on the 1 to 0, and getting it right. He had asked me a question earlier ("What is amazing?") But what shocked me about this question was that he did it when I prompted him to do so...his grammar is intact...he has the ability to think metacognitively about language...he is thinking about his thinking. Or, as some of you may say, perhaps he just wanted to know the score. All the better, he has the ability to ask questions that are relevant to him.
Then I told him that the difference was the goalkeeper, (el pinchi portero) I told him how the Chivas goallie had blocked 5 legitimate shots, while the Americas goalkeeper choked once the shooter passed the last defender.
By then, John Escobedo's sister Irene showed up and I had to split...so I said to Daniel I'll catch you later man and kissed him on the cheek. His reply: "Nos vemos."