A beautiful Tribute

I wanted to post this because people have asked, and because it is SUCH a beautiful tribute to my little guy. Melanie/Aunite Melon/

 sent this to me recently, after writing it as a tribute to Ben.  Ben had a stuffed elephant that was the first toy he really became attached to and played with…we named him Senor Alfonso Elephante and made all kinds of stories up about him.  Melon wrote this as a conversation between Ben and Senor.  We read this at the service yesterday and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including ours.  What a beautiful thing this is….we will always treasure it. 
I also want to add that after the service we were talking to Ben’s cardiologist and he said he really enjoyed all the not-so-subtle digs at the medical community…he has a great sense of humor and perspective on life, so I enjoyed hearing that.  🙂

Señor’s Final Command

Señor Alfonso Elephante is a rare South American Tri-Color Elephant. In 2006, he came to the
United States in search of a comrade to assist him in his quest to take over the world. His search
led him to West Bloomfield, Michigan, and Benjamin Scott Randall. He trained Ben every day,
teaching him to steal the hearts of other humans, confuse the medical community, and spread
love to everyone. This is their final conversation, held on the morning of February 14, 2008.
Señor Alfonso Elephante awoke, shook his trunk and took a big stretch. He nudged his best
friend and partner-in-crime Ben Randall. “Benjamin, my friend, you must wake up.” A sleepy
Ben looked at him with tired eyes and acknowledged him with all the strength he could muster.
“I barely slept last night, Señor,” said Ben. “You know I haven’t been feeling well lately. Today
is not a day for us to work on conquering the world.”

“I know you are struggling, my friend,” replied Señor. “It hurts me to see you in such a fashion.
You have been such a hard-working warrior. Do you have any idea what we have accomplished
together?”

“Well, I guess we’ve done a few things. But there are so many things we haven’t done. I’m just
figuring out how to use that fork thing. I’ve learned how to play by myself. We’ve conned Mom
into letting us look at stuff on the television thing. But I haven’t learned how to chase the cat or
hide stuff or tell everyone what I’m thinking.”

“Ah, yes, Benjamin. There are some things you have not done, but you should not focus on that.
Look at the things you have done.” He pulled out his journal. “The doctors said you would only
be here for a week. I had so much for you to do that it took one hundred two more weeks. Your
very most important job was proving the medical community wrong. I believe you have done
that, no?” Ben smiled as much as he could as Señor continued. “You convinced your parents to
take you home instead of keeping you in that sterile hospital. They enrolled you in school, took
you on vacations, and dressed you up for Easter.” Ben groaned.

“The sailor suit. Mom sent that picture to everyone!”

“Yes, my friend, she bought the sailor suit. I must say you were quite dapper in that.” He turned
the pages of his journal, showing Ben his milestone pictures and emphasizing his
accomplishments. There were month birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.”

“The leaky diaper salute!” Ben interrupted with a sly grin. “I had to give Dad a special present!”

“There was your first haircut. I was not impressed, but you were a bit shaggy. You looked like
your Auntie Melon did in the morning back in her straight hair days.”

“I thought it was more like Don King.”

“You obviously have not seen pictures of your Auntie Melon with straight hair.” Señor returned
to his journal. “There was the trip to Ludington and your first boat ride, your first family reunion,
and that trip to the UP. Your first summer was busier than most kids that age, and you met so
many people and touched so many lives. You worked very hard and did a lot for our
organization. You convinced your mother to stay at home with you instead of going back to
work. I never thought we would be able to do that, but we did.”

“Yeah, that was a difficult task. She had to give up a lot of her extras and cut down on lip balm
and watch her money spending. She had to give up being around big people all of the time to be
around me.”

“Yes, Benjamin, but then she realized you were the teacher, and she and your father had so much
to learn from you. They learned people with disabilities have so much potential and want to live
life to its fullest. They learned to let you do whatever you wanted, and to encourage your
development. They spread the word to all of your Internet fans and educated them on Down
Syndrome. We raised so much money for that first Buddy Walk! I knew we could do it!”

“That’s because I’m so stinkin’ cute.”

“We are so stinking cute, Benjamin. We. Do not forget this is a team effort.”

“Whatever. Whoa, what is that?” Ben pointed to a picture of Kym in makeup and jewelry. Is that
Mom?”

“Yes, Benjamin, that is your mother. That is the way she used to be on a regular basis, but she
now knows she does not need to worry about what other people think when they look at her. She
has learned to dress comfortably on the outside and be comfortable on the inside. I doubt she will
ever wear the Squirrel Suit in public, but we did make some progress in that area. Her attitude
even influenced your first Halloween.” Señor turned to the pages with Ben’s Halloween pictures.

“What? Are you talking about my Man Bug costume?”

“Yes, Benjamin. Do you know how many parents would not have dressed their son in that? Your
parents the rebels did not care. Even I grew to like the idea after the initial shock. I wanted a
Zorro costume with a sword, or a camouflage battle uniform, but one does not always get what
he wants.”

“Hey, the red matched Naeem’s lobster suit. I thought the Man Bug was awesome. We were a
great pair.” Ben and Señor continued their walk down memory lane, from Ben’s first
Thanksgiving and taste of Jell-O to his first Christmas. They took extra time looking at Ben’s
Christmas picture sitting in his Bumbo chair wearing snowman pajamas and a Santa Claus hat.
There were entries about Ben’s second car seat, the first time he clapped and rolled over as proof
he was reaching his therapy goals, and the first time he was able to grab Tas, the family cat.

“Aargh,” Ben said, “there are pictures of Mom’s cleaning spree before my birthday. That was
mad. They bought new blinds for the windows and vacuumed and dusted and just went crazy.
I’m sure my aunties wouldn’t have cared about the dust. We are human, you know, and I can
take up a lot of an adult’s time and energy.”

“Yes,” said Señor, “that was the Type-A in your mother coming out. I was worried I would end
up in a toy bin somewhere. That was an extremely tense moment for me.” They continued
turning pages, finally reaching pictures of Ben’s first birthday. “Ahh, this is your first birthday
celebration. This is a day they said you would never see. They did not know we had an agenda.
We had business to take care of, and we were going to get it done.”

There were more memories, of a picture at the mall with the Easter Bunny, a wild ambulance
ride to Children’s hospital, and a trip to Point Pelee in Canada with Scott’s family for bird
watching, and the first time Ben said “bye bye” after Kym prompted him. They laughed at Ben’s
“I have a secret” shirt that announced Kym’s pregnancy to the online world. “I think they were
ready,” said Señor. “You had to teach them so much about being parents. I thought they would
never get it. I was sincerely worried. I wanted to buy a Doctor Spock Child Care book online, but
I just could not make it to the computer and I do not have a credit card. They figured it out on
their own, and with the help of your capable grandparents. You were the ultimate science project
for them.” Señor read entries chronicling Ben’s progression through therapy, from sitting with
support to sitting without support; play dates with Naeem; adventures with Aunt Karen; and a
second Halloween, this time in a giraffe costume. He finally reached the second biggest day of
Ben’s life: the day his brother Toby was born.

“Mom sure was happy when he finally came. He was huge!” Ben stared at Toby’s first pictures.

“Yes, he was about twice your size. You did not prepare your parents for something so massive,
but at least they knew basic things like diapering and bathing and burping.”

“Sad pumpkin,” said Ben.

“Toby was a different challenge. He did not let your parents sleep. They had their world turned
upside-down again. It was a great accomplishment on our part. We have done so many
wonderful things.”

“We have,” said Ben, “which is why I think I should be able to sleep a little longer today.
There’s no rush to work. I am tired.”

“I know you are tired, Benjamin. You have been an outstanding comrade. You taught people to
live as if there will be no tomorrow, but not in fear. You taught people about children who are,
how do they say it? Ah, yes, with different abilities, I believe. You taught so many people so
many things. You captured the hearts of people everywhere. We have changed the world and
made it a better place. Your work here is done, my friend. Get up and bid your farewells to your
family. It is time for your ultimate reward. You have earned it.” Ben had a puzzled look on his
face as Señor continued. “I am releasing you, Benjamin. You are moving on. You will no longer
struggle. You will be able to do everything you have ever dreamed of doing.”

“Move on? You mean… like not be here anymore? I’m not sure about that, Señor. What will
everyone do? I can’t leave. I have a birthday next week. I haven’t taught Toby my cool tricks. I
have to go back to therapy and see my friends. I can’t leave. I just need to sleep.”

“No, Benjamin, it is time. You have worked very hard, and I am very proud of you. Your family
and friends will be in much pain, but they will survive. You have taught them so much that you
will never, ever be forgotten. The people will remember you as a strong, heroic, brave little boy.
Go, Benjamin. Take your reward. You will still be able to look over all of them, wherever they
are, but your struggle is over. The battle is won.”

Later that day, after spending time with his family, Ben answered the call from above, obeying
Señor’s final command. “Rest well, my little warrior,” said Señor.

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4 Responses to “A beautiful Tribute”

  1. purlewe Says:

    I thought about Ben alot this weekend while walking on the beach. I pretended he was there and I was showing him the shells, the sand, the water. It was kinda nice. The weather the first day was good and you could see forever.

    Slowly the weather turned grey (like my mood) and then on monday it was foggy. I put some of the pics on my flickr. I took all of them thinking of Ben. I also put up 2 fotos from last yr’s time with him. one of you and one of Melon. My way to remember his birthday.

    I love moo.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I agree.

    How deeply touching and so very true. Ben was a great teacher. Come visit us across the street as soon as you feel up to it. Hug Toby for Me & Naeem.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Well said Auntie Melon!

    I had similar thoughts about all the things Ben got to do…boating, swimming, you name it, he did it. Of course Auntie Melon said it much better.

    Love,
    Dawn & Charlie

  4. Anonymous Says:

    A unbelievable beautiful tribute

    I have only known Ben through pictures from Luke Larson’s page. I cried so hard when I read that story. Please tell the writer that it touched even someone who had never met Ben before. I am Chris a nurse who works with Amber at St. Joe’s.

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