My son, the fanimal

By Mary Rosswurm

It’s hard to remember when Brad didn’t love ceiling fans. My earliest memory is when he was about a year old and we were in North Adams, Mass., in a Burger King, and he just stared at the ceiling fan over his head.

Brad’s fascination grew from there. When he was as young as 2, and we would be in Home Depot or Lowe’s he always wanted to go and look at the ceiling fans. Even though he was non-verbal, he would let me know where he wanted to go by pointing. By age 4, he discovered that ceiling fans came in the Sunday newspaper ads. Lowe’s. Menards. Even JCPenney. He would cut out the ads and I would glue them on a poster board.

Teachers at school would cut out pictures of ceiling fans and collect them in envelopes for Brad and give them to him when he earned them. They became a sort of currency for him. By the time he was 8 or 9 years old, his room was covered with laminated poster boards of the ceiling fan clippings he and others collected.

When my parents gave him a digital camera for his 16th birthday, it became his most prized possession. Brad is able to take photos of ceiling fans and print them, but only if the image is perfect. Each photo goes into an album, neatly marked with the number of the fan, brand and model name. Currently, Brad has more than 4,200 in his photo collection. He is able to recall each fan picture’s number and where the photo was taken. He also is able to look at most any fan and identify the make, model and where it can be purchased along with the warranty description.

Now, at 24, he tells people that he has a special hobby of collecting ceiling fan photos. Most people are intrigued and will allow him to take the photos in their home or business. We occasionally run into the person who thinks he is perhaps casing their establishment for a future break-in, who decline his request. While this upsets him, he will remember that place and ask if he can use his “perseverance” and go back and try again.

Looking back to when Brad was a baby who would stare at ceiling fans, I could not have imagined all these years later that he would still be fascinated by them. I guess it’s no different than any other hobby a person might have. I am truly happy that Brad has something in his life that he is so passionate about. Everybody should be so lucky!

Mary is executive director at Little Star Center.