A debut memoir tells the story of a disabled friend who taught the author valuable life lessons.
In the late 1960s, Wiand’s family, which included seven children, moved to Carson City, Michigan, where the kids hoped to make new friends. Enter Eddie Lee—a good-natured, 15-year-old boy with developmental disabilities—who showed up at their door clutching a fistful of peacock feathers. This unique welcome turned into an enduring friendship, and the fun-filled adventures of Eddie became legendary in the author’s family. Affectionately dubbed “Fast Eddie” for the way he zoomed around town on his bicycle, he hadn’t always been so happy. He had been neglected as a baby, and starvation caused permanent brain damage and near blindness in one eye. Thankfully, a loving woman named Tilly convinced her husband that they should adopt him. Tilly taught Eddie how to ride a bike. He started riding it all over town, meeting new friends, collecting bottles to sell, and working odd jobs. And even though he was often bullied, Eddie managed to find joy in life. After growing up, Eddie and Wiand lost touch for more than 30 years, but then they reconnected in 2009. Elderly Tilly had been institutionalized, and Eddie was living with unscrupulous caregivers in horrible conditions. Not to worry—much like Fast Eddie, this often poignant account remains optimistic. Ten brisk chapters offer compelling Eddie anecdotes along with accompanying life lessons. For example, Chapter 6, “Treasure Everything,” tenderly describes how Eddie always had a pocket full of surprises—like arrowheads or a lucky rabbit’s foot—he’d found while neighborhood scavenging. Wiand urges readers to remember that real treasures don’t involve money. There’s some humor here, too. Chapter 2, “Believe In Yourself,” details how Eddie—despite the doubts of others—expertly drove the kids home from a lake after Grandpa got too drunk to handle the task. Regardless of the situation, Eddie’s a memorable guy, and—like curling up on the couch while eating ice cream and watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie—this smooth-flowing, heartwarming memoir is comforting.
A sweet, wide-eyed, feel-good account about a family friend.