Growing up in Evanston, IL 50+ years ago, I realized early and often how fortunate I was. Not only was I born in a developed nation, my country was among the best in the history of man. My parents were great and I got along very well with my sisters. There were many things about the time I grew up in, the place and the people, that still seem very special and wonderful for anyone to have experienced.
Five decades later, my own children are 25 and 21. Their childhoods were not as good, and the time they live in not so hopeful. Pamela and I have talked often about how difficult it is to keep putting in the time to read, research and write when the problems are so ugly, not all can be resolved and there are so many. The sense of futility can be overwhelming. The reason that always brings us back is the future of our children and the other children of the world.
Mine had both expressed interest in being parents when they were growing up. As time went on, they both decided to have only one biological child and adopt others. In the past few years, both have abandoned the idea of bringing any child into the future we now face and my daughter is not sure she will even adopt. They tell me some of their friends have reached similar conclusions. I have heard the same thing from other parents my age.
My birthday tradition developed many years ago because I keep a journal and distill the important lessons I don’t want to forget into my own ‘bible’. Since it falls so near the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, I began to use it as my day of reflection on the past year and planning for the year to come. I always write a year end summary based on the journal entries and any other insights that come to me as I look back and write.
Today it began with the best birthday present there can be. My daughter stopped by on her way to class, crept into my room and woke me with a bright red envelop and hug. I opened the letter and read two pages of life affirming love; poetry and all the things that she learned from me and loves about me. Composed and printed from a computer because of her severe dyslexia, it was amazing in how well written it was. Not only has she mastered grammar and sentence structure (with spelling by spell check), her writing is simply wonderful to read.
The reflections this year were to focus on priorities for spending time and energy. To rethink what I want to accomplish this year and decide how to best allocate my time. In all probability, the result would have been very similar without that letter. The emotions are far better.
It was the sense of a new wind beneath the wings that restored optimism. Realizing what can be done when you give everything you can, and more, to raise a child with disabilties. It must be possible to find solutions and bring a more hopeful vision to the future of our children. However far or difficult the flight, I am more determined to persevere.
“Too much sanity may be madness. The maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be.”
Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes