Share the Same Shadow
～Fran & Kim Peek～
“Recognizing and respecting differences in others, and treating everyone like you want them to treat you, will help make our world a better place for everyone. You don’t have to be handicapped to be different. Everyone is different.” ~ Kim Peek~
Dec. 20, 2009, I received 3 urgent e-mails from Professor Ernest Jones. He wanted to make sure I got his message that my dearest friend, the real Rain Man Kim Peek, while in the hospital past away from a heart attack..
I was so shocked and heart-broken when I read the e-mail. A thousand imagines of Kim’s purity, lovely facial expressions and his baby-like behaviors rushed through my mind. My eyes became teary and my heart felt saddened.
I remember the last time that I saw Kim, he held my hand and told me, “Ernest told my dad we will be back next year..…. I come here to look for love (friendship). You are a nice lady; I have found love. My dad said we are invited to go to Taiwan, but my Dad did not tell me when.” Then Kim flapped his hands, made a dahdahdah sound and then walked away.
My dear friend gone suddenly and left us behind. He did not get a chance to visit my home town, never getting the chance to meet the people there who he believed to be all nice people…
Kim’s father, Fran, told me “the last communication I had with Kim, he told me “Dad, my heart has a problem, I don’t feel so good.” Fran put his two hands on his chest and continued “Kim’s back was against my chest and he held his hands next to his heart .. That was our last conversation.”
Fran looked at me and said softly “Kim will always be with me ”With tears in my eyes, I gave Fran a hug and tried to comfort him: “I miss Kim too. Yes, Kim will always be with us.”
Fran padded my shoulder and told me “We were planning on accepting the invitation from Taiwan Academic University in June of next year; but it looks like I have to cancel that plan.”
I felt so emotional, I wanted to tell him how much I was willing to take him with me to visit Taiwan. So many would want to know about Kim from his father’s perspective, and they would also want to get to know him, he was a great father. The words were stuck in my throat - how can I arrange the trip, and what can I do for him?
Looking at Fran, my mind developed a picture of Fran holding his son, calling his name, and asking him to hold on. Fran road with Kim in the ambulance on the way to the hospital; he held Kim’s hand and kept telling him to hold on, but Kim’s life-line grew weaker and weaker, he passed away the following day. .
I met Fran again on May 14, 2010, five months after Kim passed away. Fran looked the same; a warm smile was on his face as always. He was still counting on Kim’s strengths and talking about the unique symptoms of Kim’s Savant Syndrome. He also talked about the interesting incidents in the past and the latest scientific discoveries; etc..
I sat and listened to him as he talked about his son. Kim was like his shadow, always at his side. It’s hard not to notice how lost and lonely he is.
Kim would always walk around Fran, Fran would stop him, hold his hand and tell Kim “Can you tell this lady, what day of the week was her birthday?”
Kim would tell everyone the day of the week for her birthday, the day of the week when he would turn 65 and could think about retiring, and also every big event that happened on that date. If you told him where you were born, he would also tell you without hesitation which highway and exit you should take to go to your hometown.
It was a piece of cake for Kim to tell you about even the smallest city. He would give you all the information immediately, the capital of the state and the freeway you would need to take to get there..
The first time that I met Kim I told him that I came from Taiwan. Kim gave me the longitude and latitude of Taiwan, the year of revolution and the person who established The Republic of China… I felt ashamed that I did not recognize some of the information and I forgot the year for some events.
After that, whenever Kim and I had a chance to meet, he would tell Fran “Dad, she was from Taiwan, Anne our friend in Utah was from Taiwan too. Dad, she is a nice lady!” all those words were repeated almost every time we met.
Once, Fran took Kim to a school for a speech. A 12 year old boy always interrupted Kim when he was answering others’ questions. Kim walked toward the boy, pulled him up, and asked “Why do you interrupt me, don’t you know it is rude? “ The boy replied, “You did not pick me or answer my question!” Kim said, “Now, I want to ask you a question.” The boy said, “Okay”, Kim asked “Does your mother have a child?” This kind of silly question made the audients laugh, and embarrassed the boy. Many people do not recognize that Kim has the Mt. Everest of memory, however, he is not good at logical thinking, or in other words, he lacks the concept of logic. His IQ tested score was 74.
Kim’s diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) demonstrates numerous connections between the two hemispheres, even with absence of Corpus Callosum. He also has a very unique vision system - Kim would read two pages with his two eyes in eight to ten seconds and then instantly commit the pages. (He can also read a single page with two eyes).
Compared with a normal personwho might need 3 minutes to read one page, Kim could read it in 30 seconds. For things that interest him the most, like maps and almanac, Kim will use two eyes at the same time to read it, when he was focusing on his reading, he will make sounds to inhibit the interruption from outside.
It was very difficult for Kim to understand abstract concept. He also demonstrated an unusual form of dyslexia wherein he could read a page turned sideways or upside down, also his ability of marrow read, Fran discovered this ability when Kim was skimming the front page of a newspaper that had inadvertently been placed on a mirrored dresser.
Kim’s head was approximately one-third larger then normal, there was extensive damage to the cerebellum, particularly on the right side. Fran described that Kim could walk down the stairs slowly when he was 14, and he still had difficulty with balance or motor skills.
Kim had an outstanding memory ability. He had some autistic traits and mannerisms, but was not diagnosed with autism. There was no official diagnosis as Autism Spectrum Disorder except Mental Retardation before his age 58.
Fran asked me about the progress of my reference book, and asked if there is anything he can help with. He remembered what Mr. Jones told him that I am working on a reference book to help people with the understanding of learning disability. No doubt that he cares about how the community can help kids with autism. He also devoted his energy, knowledge, experience and time to help Dr. Darold A Treffert, an expert in savant syndrome, with his new book “Inlands of Genius” (April 2010). Fran thought there were a few areas in which need to be modified to help the reader understand the difficult medical terms. Fran does his best to promote autism awareness and never loses his passion.
Kim had much more exposures to the public and media after the Rain Man movie was out. Fran traveled around the world with Kim, attending academic seminars or research studies. Fran did not ask for any fee except traveling expenses. Sometime when they got a donation from someone, Fran would return the donation to the local organization for special needs. Fran believed that because Kim had been taken care of by the government and that was enough for his basic living. He wanted to help more special needs people however he could. Only until the past few years, when he was in need of financial support, did he accept some minimal fees.
Fran worked with Lisa L. Hanson on his second book “The Life and Message of The Real Rain Man”. This book describes the nearly 58 years of Fran and Kim’s life together. During this time, Fran never lost his patience or love for Kim. His love for his son grew fonder with the days they had spent together.
In a documentary, Kim said, “My dad helps me a lot; we take showers together, he helps me to shave, brush my teeth, he helps me dress up, he takes care of me. We share the same shadow………”
“The Life and Message of The Real Rain Man” will illustrate Kim’s amazing ability. He memorized over 12,000 books. Fran is a good role model for each one of us. This is a very valuable book for parents who have children with special needs or for professional educators.
I sincerely ask for your support with Mr. Fran Peek’s new book 《The Life and Message of The Real Rain Man》. You can purchase this book from National Professional Resources, Inc. Thank you very much.
Priscilla Meng 5/18/2010
25 South Regent Street, Port Chester, NY 10573
Phone: 1-800-453-7461 Fax: 914-937-9327