Mikey and Me
A riveting memoir about growing up as a typical sibling in a family of four, Mikey & Me is Teresa Sullivan's tribute to her beloved older sister Mikey, who was blind and developmentally disabled.
When Mikey is young, the Sullivans are a closely-knit unit, devoted to caring for her. But as Mikey grows older, and increasingly violent, it becomes impossible to keep her at home. At twelve, institutionalization is the only option. Without the shared purpose of caring for Mikey, the family begins to unravel. Seeking comfort and connection, Teresa navigates the border between the mainstream and the 1960s and 70s countercultures. Still, the Sullivans are united by their love and concern for Mikey, visiting often and sometimes bringing her home. Sometimes sweet and touching interludes, these visits also reveal evidence of the abuse that Mikey experiences.
Writing with clarity, eloquence, and poignancy, Sullivan shines a light on the complicated issues involved in caring for a special needs child. Even young siblings must become honorary adults and caregivers, grappling with the same conflicting emotions their parents experience.
As she interweaves her exceptional sister's journey with her own, Sullivan affirms the grace and brutality of Mikey's life, and its indelible effect on her family.
This is an exceptional read. Not to be missed. This is how all memoirs should be written with such soul. Instantly, I felt a connection towards the author and her family. It could not have been easy to raise a developmentally disabled sister right from birth. Yet, as the author shares, Mikey was the glue that held the family together. If Teresa's parents had put Mikey into an institution early on, she and her family would not have had the memories of the fun times.
When the author shared how she felt a bit resentment towards her sister for taking so much of her parents time and love, I felt the most real connection with the author. She laid bare part of her soul. Although, this book was not just about Mikey. Teresa shares her childhood growing up after Mikey becomes a ward of the state. This is when the glue dissolves. I am glad that Teresa had a friend like Anne. Everyone needs that one great, best friend.
The deplorable living situation and lack of staff care is horrible. People like Mikey should not have to be subject to those situations. I do not know what the current situations are like but I truly hope and expect that they are better. The state has an obligation to care for these people with respect. This book will resonate with you long after you have finished the last page.