Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The man who was the basis for the movie Rain Man, Kim Peek, has died at age 58 of a heart attack. Although people say Rain Man is dead, note that the savant was not Rain Man. That was the name he called his brother Raymond.

Peek had been touring the world in recent years displaying his knowledge and mental abilities, which were truly astounding. He would take questions from an entire room full of people and answer them all, including baseball statistics and the names of cabinet members of former presidents. He read all the time and evidently remembered everything he read. No one really knows how much he knew because no one knew enough to test him. Further, no one really understood how his brain could retain so much.

As great as Peek's learning ability was, I think the real story is that of his father, Fran. Doctors told Fran his son was retarded, would never speak or walk, and advised putting him in an institution. Instead, his father devoted his life to loving and nurturing his unusual son. Even after his wife left him, he continued on. At 80 years of age, he toured the world with his son, taking care of him and all the arrangements. Even though Peek could memorize a telephone directory or count the number of tooth picks in a box, he could not dress or shave himself or otherwise function in the world.

Fran could have had a life devoted to himself, his career, and his pleasures. Instead, he sacrificed for his son. This son originally could not return even the smallest amount of affection, although he did later. So, to me, Kim Peek is an interesting man. Fran, however, is a man of heroic proportions. As the Bible says, greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, or in this case, his son. So mark down Fran as one of the greatest lovers of all time.
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