Saturday, September 20, 2014


My name is Alister Graham. And I am Batman.

Batman is a man of strong convictions and determination.  Batman suffered a trauma at a young age when his parents were killed in front of him.  This trauma is part of what gives Batman his motivation and drive to fight crime.  My trauma came later in life, when at the age of just three weeks old, both of my twins were diagnosed with a rare genetic kidney disorder.  The motivation and drive this has given me is to fight for my children, to get them the best care and to keep them safe, comfortable and happy.

Batman is a symbol of hope to the citizens of Gotham City.  When they see the bat signal light up the night sky they are reminded that there is someone out there on their side, doing what they can to make the city a better, safer place.  One of my favorite memories of Max happened when I was attending to him late at night.  Max woke slightly and slowly opened his sleepy eyes to see my face watching over him.  Max then let out a big smile, and closed his eyes and went back to sleep, with the comfort of knowing that I was there, watching over him and that he was safe.

Batman is results oriented.  He is not afraid to employ unconventional methods to achieve the outcome that he seeks, even if it puts him in harm's way.  When our hospital told us that they would not transplant our children because they were too small, we began exploring other options.  Ultimately we discovered one of the few hospitals in the country with experience dealing with kidney transplants on such small children.  The outcome we managed secure for our twins freed them from dialysis and greatly enhanced their day to day quality of life.

Batman often finds himself in sticky situations.  Batman has to maintain his composure and be cool under pressure.  He needs to draw on his training and experience to escape whatever predicament he finds himself.  When Max was younger, he would periodically decide to quit breathing if he got upset, turning himself different shades of blue in the process.  This earned him the affectionate nickname in the hospital of Maximilian the chameleon.  Suffice to say this did not make the early days of Max first coming home from the hospital very easy.  Several times a week Max would decide to quit breathing and we would have to pump some air into his lungs using a device to get him to start breathing on his own again.  Thankfully, as Max has gotten older he has since outgrown this condition.

Both Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne are seen as mysterious and desirable by women.  I like to think of Stephanie as Bruce Wayne's love interest in "Batman and Robin" who just happened to be played by Elle Macpherson.  Alternatively you could view her as Batgirl, helping me fight crime in a leather jumpsuit.  Either way, throughout everything, Stephanie has been the best partner anyone could have hoped for.  I don't know how either of us would have made it this far without each other.

Batman is an orphaned, billionaire, vigilante, scientist, engineer, businessman and martial artist.  OK.  You got me on that one.  Moving on...

Batman has a sidekick, Robin.  Someone always by his side.  Together they form the dynamic duo and patrol Gotham City eradicating scum from the streets.  Max is my Robin.  Whenever there is a crisis, we are there, meeting it head on.  Wherever I go, Max accompanies me.  When I am at home, he is always there in the same room as me, by my side.  The most faithful of companions. I never feel alone or in need of company when he is there.

And still, in spite of all of this, I just can't shake the feeling that perhaps I got it all wrong.  It was too easy for me to be Batman.  Too easy for me to make that claim given what limited role I have played in all of this.  This whole time, it has been Max in the trenches, fighting the good fight.  He is the one that has had to overcome the trauma of his ailments.  Me? I'm just the support.  I'm the one that's been there on the sidelines, giving Batman different tools he needs to fight his way out of a sticky situation.  At the end of the day there is only so much we can do to help Max.  He has to do the rest on his own.  He is the Batman.

Max's Batman is also a ladies' man.  One night, when Max was around 6 months old, for some reason I ended up staying much later than usual in at the hospital.  While I was sitting there holding Max, a nurse showed up and looked disappointed that I was there, as she would normally come by and hold Max at that time.  Then, a few minutes later, another nurse came by.  Then another.  The nurses would line up for their chance to hold Max.  Before that night I had no idea Max was such a ladies' man.  Even after we first brought him home, Max would lie awake at night, ready and waiting for his nurses to come by and hold him.

Batman has many foes.  Whenever a villain threatens Gotham City, it is ultimately up to Batman to confront them.  These foes can be unpredictable at the best of times.  Just when you think you understand the Joker's plan it twists and turns on you.  Max's immune system is suppressed so that he doesn't reject his new kidney.  As a result, he is extra susceptible to picking up whatever virus is going around.  Should Max get an infection, it takes his body much longer to fight it.  But that's OK.  In the end, Batman will prevail.

And so, at the end of the story, Batman has vanquished his foes, the people rejoice and Gotham City is safe once more.  Until next time.  There is no telling who will be the next villain with an evil plot to throw Gotham City into chaos.  In the mean time, I will stand by Batman's side.  I will take care of him, keep him out of trouble and maintain the Batcave that is his bedroom.  But all the while I will be on guard for the next villain.  And until that time comes, we will not take our time together for granted.  For now, Gotham city is safe.

My name is Alister Graham.  And I am Robin.


Lori W. said...

This is perfect. You're such a good daddy, Al! What an honor to be Max's biggest hero.

Grandma Jean said...

Alister: You have a remarkable talent for writing and I am so impressed! I am currently signed up for Writer's Workshop II and have written a small part of what I hope will be an interesting, humorous memoir. However, after reading this, I feel that you are the one with the real talent. And, I agree - you and Stephanie make a wonderful team.

Peg Berthold said...

Alister, You are more than a hero to Max. You are an example of that power and joy gives one in helping another without any concern for reciprocity. Scientific studies prove that the kind act of a stranger puts that person in a much happier frame of mind the rest of the day than those did not bestow kindness. Your days with Max must be joyous. Glad to see you out there on the blog.