Michael Jackson an Autism Inspiration –
January 31st, 2012
Michael Jackson an Autism Inspiration Story for One Special Italian Fan
Many friends of mine have asked me to share this wonderful experience. I’ve tried my best to tell it somehow, but I think it’s impossible to describe such a deep, strong emotion. What Michael gave me on that day is beyond words.
Before I begin, I’d like to say that Michael was not only my favorite artist, he accompanied me through different times of my life; during the lightheartedness of my adolescence and also in my hardest times. His music was actually the sound track of my life. Thanks to him I met my husband, not to mention the wonderful friendships that I made.
When I was a child, I called my secret diary “Michael,” and every time I wrote something in it, it was like I was speaking to him. I remember that I covered up my room’s walls with all of his photos, but in particular, I had his poster in life-size beside my bed portraying him lying down; he really just seemed to be on my bed. I remember it looked so natural that my little nieces were scared of it. They adored Michael, but still they were so scared that he would turn into a werewolf. If you only knew of all the conversations that I had with that poster….well, I was 11 at the time. Many children have their imaginary friend; I had Michael Jackson.
The first great emotion that I felt was on May 23rd, 1988, the first time I went to see him in concert (I was 17 years old.) It was in Rome at the Flaminio Stadium, the first European stop on the BAD Tour.
Oh my God, what a concert!
In 1990, I married Giuseppe, better known as “Peppe Michael Jackson.” I’m not joking when I say that he was famous for his resemblance to Michael.
In 1991, my first child Tania was born. Needless to say, she already knew Michael from her mother’s womb. On July 4th, 1992, I attended another concert. It was during the Dangerous Tour, and only those who have seen this concert can understand how wonderful it really was.
In 1993, Vincenzo, my second child, was born. A great joy for me, but unfortunately that year, I had to face a very tough reality. Tania, my daughter, was diagnosed with Autism.
It’s not that easy for a 22-year-old girl to discover she had an Autistic daughter. I’m not referring only to the hurt of finding out, but it’s not easy to handle such trouble at that young age (it’s never easy; whatever age is it, honestly). Thanks to God, He gives us, besides all the pains and the sorrows in our life, also the strength and the dignity to face them.
Growing up and becoming a mother never reduced my love for Michael. On the contrary, it increased. Perhaps it was because I always identified myself with him. Michael and I had so many things in common. Our childhoods and the things we missed during that time, and having 3 sisters and 5 brothers increased my love for him more, I guess.
In 1996, I knew that Michael would have started his HIStory Tour in Prague. Some of my friends were getting ready for the tour, and I was feeling very bad because I knew that having two little children would keep me from ever going with them. As “fate” would have it, my neighbors were from Prague. They knew very well what I felt for Mike. I’ll never forget that night when they told my husband: “Come on you! Michael Jackson will be in our town. Let Stefania go see him with her friends. Our house is midtown of Prague and is vacant, so she could stay there. We will help you here with the babies.”
When my husband said yes, I couldn’t believe it! It seemed to me as I could fly! Since that day my dreams started, and I said to myself: “This time I will not be satisfied only by watching him on stage. He must know that I exist. He’s got to know what he gave me and what he represents to me. I’ll have to do something to impress him.”
So I got a canvas, 2 x 3 meters, and I started painting on it. I just had such a strong inspiration. I knew so well what to do; Michael sitting under a tree with the Walt Disney characters all around him. Peter Pan sitting on his knees; a river, a lawn, many children and Topo GiGio (whom he really adored) waving the Italian flag. I had lots of time to do it since I would not see Michael for many months. ‘I’ll make it.’ I repeated to myself, and I kept on painting with all my love.
Finally, on September 5th, I landed at the Prague airport with my friend Vania and my canvas. Sonia and Patrizia who were also from Naples, were waiting for us. They had arrived two days before. We went to our friends’ house to drop off our suitcases, and then we rushed off right away to the Intercontinental Hotel where Michael was staying. On our way in the car, Sonia told me she was lucky enough to have hugged Michael the day before. Some fans were allowed to stand within the barriers placed in front of the hotel entrance. She was even allowed to enter with another group of fans into the restaurant where Michael was. I was happy for her, but at the same time I was regretting that I had not been there the day before. Maybe (who knows) Michael could have seen my canvas. This thought kept repeating itself.
That night I couldn’t close my eyes for the thought of the next morning, when we would have to leave in the early dawn to get the best places to stand at the hotel. We were the first to arrive that morning, September 6th. We put my drawing within the barriers just in front of the main entrance, so when Michael would come out he would surely see it just in front of him.
The long wait began. Meanwhile, several fans began to arrive increasing the crowd in an amazing way. They were coming from every part of the world. Many of them came up to me to compliment me on my drawing. Michael’s photographer approached me and started taking pictures of it, very satisfied. A little bit later, Michael’s cameraman was there too, and videotaped the canvas for what seemed to be a very long time. He congratulated me on a great job as well.
I was certainly very flattered by that, but I wanted Michael. I wanted to see his eyes looking down on my canvas, and then hope that our glances would cross into one another’s. I had dreamed it for so many years. Finally, into the later part of the morning, the hotel door opened. Everybody started screaming “Michael! Michael!” I was paralyzed. I couldn’t believe it; he was just a few meters from me. He was gorgeous!
He wore black trousers, a red shirt and a black jacket. At one point he looked down at the drawing. He even stopped to do his thumbs-up as if to say, “Okay!” He took a few steps forward to say hello to the crowd, and then he came back to sit in the car. He must have gone to the wrong vehicle because he got out and went to another car. (There were 2 of the same looking cars parked in a row.) Wayne, his bodyguard, called Teddy Lakis (star promoter) and pointed to the drawing. He came over to us and said, “Michael likes this drawing very much, he‘d like to have it.” Since I had lost my tongue to speak, my friends answered, “Oh, yes! This was drawn just for him, but she would love to have the pleasure of giving it to him personally.” He went back to Michael to report what he was told, and then returned to us and said, “Okay, Mr. Jackson is going to visit the President, but when he comes back he said you’re invited to go up in his room.” After those words, I couldn’t understand anything more. I laughed, I cried, I trembled, I stammered; I was totally out of my mind!
He hadn’t much make-up on and he was gorgeous! His hair was tied in a strange way; a sort of loose ponytail. He wore the same red shirt of that morning, but had on different trousers. I was trembling so badly and praying, ‘God please, I don’t want to cry and look foolish, so please give me the strength to control myself and stand on my own two feet.’
I went on staring at him; I did not want to miss anything. Suddenly, Wayne motioned to me to open the tube and I made a fool of myself once again. Since it was huge and very heavy, I made it crash into the chandelier with a terrible clatter. Luckily it didn’t break, and I only managed to say in a whisper, “Oh, sorry.” It was in that moment that his eye caught mine, and he smiled with the sweetest expression.
As the bodyguards rolled out the canvas, Michael stood up from the chair with an, “Oooohhh!” as if to say, “At last!” He began to observe it with the enthusiasm of a child. He was very sweet because I was very nervous, and he tried to make me feel at ease by commenting on it aloud and smiling, “Oh my God, it’s wonderful!” Then, without turning away from the picture, he came closer to look at it and he started shouting, “Oooohhh, Topo Gigìo!” dwelling on the final i of the name. Everyone was laughing at his childlike behavior but me. I was paralyzed.
His eyes lit up like those of a child in front of his favorite toy. Apart from Wayne and Yanik, there were some kids in his room and a woman whom I think was their mother: She had always been with Michael since his arrival in Prague, but I did not know who she was.
When Michael saw Topo Gigio with the Italian flag in his hand, he asked me, “Are you Italian?” I answered, “Yes”. The woman immediately began to speak to me in Italian and said, “Oh, how nice, I’m Italian too. Where are you from?” When I answered, “I’m from Naples,” Michael smiled at me and said, “Oh, I love Naples.”
He kept on analyzing the picture; concentrating on every single detail and saying, “Oh boy, it’s wonderful, wonderful!” Luckily the woman helped me by acting as an interpreter. Michael asked me, “Why did you choose to portray us under a tree?” I answered, “I don’t know, it has been a sort if inspiration. I saw it in my mind before painting.” He said, “Oh, sure. You had a vision! That tree means a lot to me.”
Then the woman smiled and said to me, “Wow, he said he will bring it home and put it in his room.” I couldn’t believe it and I just said, “Thank you.” He said, “No, thank you! You gave me such a beautiful present. It is full of love.” He went on saying, “Thank you, I love you.”
Wayne, who was holding up the canvas together with the woman, told Yanik to take a picture. Unfortunately, at that moment Michael put on his mask. I believe he did so because he had almost no make-up on. I could clearly see some spots of vitiligo on his face, in particular between his cheek and the right ear. Then he gave me his hand, and invited me to stand close to him for the photo.
I don’t know how I managed to stand on my feet, especially when I felt his hand holding my hip. I wore an openwork t-shirt, and I could feel his fingers touching my skin; he smelt of vanilla perfume. It was the hardest time of my life. My heart was beating so hard that I’m sure he could hear it too. In the meantime, Yanik was fighting with the camera and couldn’t get the picture. Michael said something, but I couldn’t understand. He told Yanik something like he was the only one who could be a true bodyguard, and then he teased him by saying, “Hello, Yanik, you know that if you don’t push the button you can’t take the picture, don’t you?” Everybody started laughing. I was still feeling Michael’s hand on my hip and I felt very dizzy. It seemed like the whole room was moving around me. I took a deep breath and smiled while Yanik finally took the picture. Michael exclaimed, “We did it!”
That was the most beautiful moment in my life; his beautiful eyes were staring at mine. He understood that I was much too excited and so he asked me, “Are you ok?” with such an incredible sweetness. That was the real moment that I did let myself go. I threw my arms around him sobbing, “Oh, Michael.” He hugged me too; he held me so tightly and I broke down and cried. That was the one thing I never wanted to do in front of him, crying just like every common fan, but I accumulated too much tension so I could not hold it back. Michael, with all his sweetness, kept on caressing my head and my back. If I could have, I would have stopped the time and stayed in his arms and felt his warmth, heard his voice and smelled his perfume into eternity.
I couldn’t believe it. I dreamt of that moment since I was a child. I have imagined that scene a million times, and now I really was there in those arms. God, he smelled so good, and how tight he was holding me! I shall never be able to describe what I felt at that moment. Never!
Since I couldn’t stop crying, I told him, “I’m sorry,” and he said to me, smiling with such an indescribable kindness, “Oh-oh! It’s all right.” He stared at me with that particular glance that only he has and asked me again, “Are you ok?” It was incredible! Just a few moments earlier he looked like a child to me, and now only a few minutes later he took the stature of a father figure. I told him, “I’m fine, thank you.” Then he smiled and asked me with some curiosity what I had in my bag.
I actually didn’t realize that I had been holding my bag since I entered the room, but I was so excited I didn’t think to put it down anywhere. Inside of it I had my children’s photos, and a letter that I wrote for him in which I had opened my heart; writing all that Michael meant to me, and giving him all my support for all that he had to endure. He put down the bag on the table and began to leaf through the photos. I told him, “These are my children.” He replied, “Oh, congratulations, you already are a mother. But they’re such beautiful kids!” I said, “This is Vichi, he’s 3, and he has imitated you since he was only one.” He smiled, saying that Vichi was really a beautiful baby boy.
Then I showed him Tania’s photos, and I said to him that she’s Autistic. He said, “Oh no, I’m sorry! I do know Autism. They live in a world all on their own.” “Sure,” I replied, “and you are part of her world too. Since she was a newborn baby, she always listened to your music when she breaks down and cries. She needs to listen to your songs to calm her. She does not play any kind of game, so most of the time she usually spends her hours watching your videos. When we were at the hospital, we had to take the video player and all of your VHS tapes with us to make her stay quiet.” He became serious, slowly taking a careful look at Tania’s pictures, visibly touched.
He said nothing at first, and then spoke. “She’s beautiful. Her glance; her smile is wonderful. Can I take her pics?” “Certainly you can,” I replied. “How old is she?” He asked. “She’s five,” I said. “Can she speak?” “No, Michael. Unfortunately I never heard the sound of her voice.” He said, “No! My God! She‘s so beautiful! Is there something I could do for her? Do you need my help? How can I help you?” I simply thanked him. I could have asked him to let Tania meet him because he often gave hospitality to many disabled children in Neverland, but I did not have the courage to ask. I’m still regretting this decision. I’m sure that Tania would have been so happy there. She loves to see him singing and dancing.
Michael took my hand, and looking into my eyes he said, “Don’t ever lose your faith or your hope, and don’t stop fighting for her. Never! Don’t give up!” We embraced each other once again, and just as I was crying I said, “Thank you Michael, I love you!” and he answered, “I love you too; I love you more.” It was such an intense moment; so special that I have real a difficulty telling it. I fear that it may go away somehow.
I always knew that he was a sensitive, kind of person, but at that moment he was sensitive only for me. He was really touched, and he made me feel all his support and all his love. What a wonderful man; so humble and special! (Here, I start crying again) Then he took my letter, and I said, “Michael, please, it’s so important to me that you’ll read my letter.” And he said, “I’ll do it tonight, I promise.”
Unfortunately, it came my time to say goodbye. Wayne was already waiting for me close to the door. I said to that woman, “Please, I have something more to tell him.” I would have told him that I felt so sorry for him; for everything he had to go through because of the charges and the wickedness he suffered. I wanted to say these things to him even if I had already written everything in my letter. I was only able to say, “How are you?” But I’m quite sure he knew what I was referring to. In fact, we looked into each other’s eyes and I felt really in tune with him. He thanked me and he told me he was fine, also thanking us for the gestures of love that he received from us in which he gained more and more strength. I told him, “Please, take care of you, and don’t forget you’ll always have our support; we will always be with you.” “Ooh, thank you, I love you so much. God bless you,” he said. We said goodbye, and while I was walking to the door I reminded him to read my letter once again. He brought his hand to his lips and kissed the index and the middle finger, and then he placed them to his heart saying, “I swear it.”
I almost crossed the threshold, when I realized that I had forgotten to take the paper bag which had some gifts in it that my friends gave me to give to Michael. I turned back with confidence, took the bag and said, “Oh, I forgot to give Michael these things” Red faced, I went back over to Michael. He looked at me smiling. I threw this enormous bag of gifts into his hands, and instead of telling him that those were my friends’ gifts for him, I said: “These are my friends.” God, how embarrassing. Everyone there was laughing. Michael made fun of me, looking into the bag with his eyes open wide. We all were laughing; it was really a nice moment and Michael was so cute. He asked me to help him hold the bag while he took the items from inside. I don’t know how I contained myself because from that moment on, I can’t recall anything. I don’t remember how we said goodbye. I don’t remember who brought me downstairs. I don’t even remember if the girls who came up with me had left already or if they came down with me. I only know that I found myself sitting and crying on the sidewalk.
Separating myself from him was one of the most difficult moments of my life.
Thirteen years have gone by, and I still have not remembered what happened; my mind completely removed the moments after I left. He dedicated so much of his time to me making me feel loved….me, a perfect stranger! He was really a gift of God!
Thank you Michael, you are really an angel….. You will always live in my heart. I love you!