Tag Archives: special needs

Pity, Regret….What is this feeling?

aware of behavior

I got a text message from my sister today asking if I was able to take a call from her. Of course I knew that meant it couldn’t be good news if she couldn’t just text it to me.  She told me that she received a call today from a hospital in Florida.  My cousin Christopher had been in a terrible accident and she was his emergency contact. He has been estranged from our family for the most part, only communicating with my sister through Facebook and occasional text messages.

Chris is 39 years old and has many special needs.  He has been living in Florida for over ten years, although he grew up here in New Jersey only a town away from us. He and I could not be any more different.  I refuse to be in contact with him because he is a spiteful and hateful person and I don’t want to associate with that kind of negativity in my life.  He treats his mom terribly and when I do succumb and give in and try to give him another chance, he just spews more hatred and I can’t be a part of that. His special needs could be a part of his “personality” but it still doesn’t make it okay.

He was on his way to the hospital this morning for a surgical procedure that he needed.  Apparently, he stepped into a crosswalk when a bus made a left turn, did not see him and struck him.  He has multiple fractures to his ribs, a broken arm, head lacerations and possible brain bleeds. He is on a ventilator right now and completely sedated.

My sister went to tell his mother, my aunt, in person this afternoon and although Chris’ relationship with her is very strained and complicated, she of course is devastated. She doesn’t know if she needs to fly down there and be with him and is waiting to hear about the brain scans before making that decision.  Chris does have a power of attorney that lives in Florida who will help with decision making and she is on her way to the hospital and has been in touch with my aunt.

I find myself in a very difficult spot right now. I would never wish this upon anyone, and no one “deserves” this. I feel badly for my aunt and hope that he is not feeling any pain and is comfortable right now but I am finding it hard to feel a lot of sympathy and this is disturbing to me. Perhaps more pity or regret.  I am not sure what this feeling is.

I am hoping that he pulls through this and recovers with very little pain and suffering. I wonder if it will cause a change of heart getting a second chance….

Here is a link to the accident, (although it says a man in his fifties – which he does look like….) http://www.gainesville.com/article/20150413/ARTICLES/150419893?p=2&tc=pg&tc=ar

Gardening at Camp


Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not a gardener.  My mom used to joke that she had a “black thumb” and I think I inherited that from her.  I occasionally get plants from students and I love them and do my best to keep them alive, but I am not always successful.  Last year, my friend Peggy who is a florist, sent the most spectacular purple orchid to the funeral home in memory of my mom.  There were so many flowers sent there and we were able to do what we wanted with them when the services were over.  Since the mausoleum where my mother is buried doesn’t allow real flowers inside, we knew they could not go there so my family and I chose the ones we loved most and kept those.  I can’t remember what we did with the rest. There was some talk of donating them but that day is such a blur I can’t recall.

I chose to keep that stunning orchid and I actually kept it alive for months.  Peggy gave me some tips for sustaining it. I remember crying the day that it lost it’s last flower.  I googled how to preserve it and keep it so that it would bloom again but it never did.  I still have the glass vase and the branch, (which is obviously dead) sitting on a shelf.  I can’t bear to get rid of it.  There is nothing to it anymore.  It has made its way from the dining room, where it bloomed for so long, to the kitchen, where it sat on the window sill after it died and now to the counter right near the trash.  I just can bring myself to do it yet.

At Camp Maple, where I am working this summer, there is a small interior garden in the building.  It is in a courtyard in the center of the building.  If you have never been in the building, you’d never know it was there.  Last week, the women that maintain the garden asked us if we wanted to let our campers help out with the garden.  Our campers are all boys and have different needs and intricacies so weren’t sure how they would react to this.  We told them that we’d try it out and see how it went.  Today was the day.  The counselors discussed it ahead of time and made a plan that we’d see how it went and see how long the boys would be able to last in the garden.  We would stay as long as they could handle it.

It turned out to be the best day so far!  The three women who run the program were patient and kind with them.  They took them from area to area explaining the different plants that were growing.  They each planted beans which shouldn’t take much time to sprout.  We weeded the cobblestones, watered the vegetables and added to the compost that they have created.  One of the boys found a caterpillar that was just beginning to create it’s chrysalis.  This fascinated all of them.  Each of those boys was engaged the entire time we were in there.  They asked if they could come back again tomorrow.

In that hour, as I sat there weeding with the boys, I felt a calm come over me.  I think the boys did too.  They entered that garden and explored on their own.  It seemed to make them calm and comfortable as they worked around the courtyard. While they were gardening, they were practicing social interaction not just with each other, but with grownups as well.  They had the chance to play in the dirt and the mud as they squeezed the soil between their fingers so it was a great tactile activity for them.

All of the counselors noticed the change in temperament and attitude that came across the boys while we were in there.  We have decided to go back again tomorrow.  It might be a fun way to start or end each day.  The best part is that they will be able to watch the progress they are making in that garden as they come to camp each day for the next five weeks and that will give them a great sense of accomplishment.

So Proud of You

proud of you

Last night my boys went to the NJ Devils game with my dad. When they got home, DJ said, “Drew, are you going to tell mom what you did at the game tonight?”  I replied, ‘Uhoh, what…” and DJ said, “No mom, it is good!”  We all laughed and Drew got embarrassed and told me this story,

You know how I always go up to the glass for warm ups?  Well, I went there tonight and I was hoping that a player would toss me a puck after practice.  There was this kid standing near me who had special needs and he was wearing a Toronto jersey.  He reminded me of that girl we saw at The Newark Bears Game.  That was the kind of special needs he was.  Well, he wanted a puck so badly but he didn’t get one and I guess he got tired of standing there because he and his dad went back to their seats.  Then, I got a puck and I went over and gave it to him instead of keeping it. The kid was so happy!  Later, the dad and the kid came over to our seats and thanked me.  At the end of the game, I went up to where the referees leave the ice and NJ, (the Devils mascot,) tossed me the game puck!

I was so proud I nearly cried.  DJ was just nodding his head the whole time telling me that really happened.  My dad told me how proud he was of him.  I had to share it – I was so filled with joy that he had done such a generous thing.  For anyone who knows him, he is a collector and giving up a puck was probably not the easiest thing for him!!  I shared the story on Facebook before I left for work this morning.  I got home this evening and found that there were just under 200 likes and almost 50 comments about it!  Comments saying others were going to pay it forward today after reading it.  Comments about how he is growing up into such a kind young man.  Comments about how Dave and I “must be doing something right!”

He and I just read the comments together and he is embarrassed – self-conscious perhaps, but I can tell he is pleased with himself.  It is so nice watching him grow into such a kind hearted boy.  Many of the comments mentioned “great parenting.”  I had great role models to follow, and now my children are following in those footsteps as well.  We talk all the time about how easy it is to do the right thing and last night, Drew demonstrated that perfectly.

A Monday Night Wedding

love story

Last night I attended the wedding of two friends.  Yes, last night.  A Monday evening.  That’s what happens when you work on Broadway and a large number of the guests do too.  Monday night is an off night for shows so it was the perfect night Julia and Doreen to tie the knot.

I have known them for years.  Not only was I lucky enough to teach their two daughters Olivia and Ruby, but their son Cooper attended Camp Maple where I work in the summer.  These women never fail to amaze me.  Their three beautiful children all have special needs of varying degrees.  This doesn’t phase them in the least.  They take it all in stride.  I don’t think I have ever seen either of these women break a sweat. As Cooper demanded to stand between the two of them during the entire ceremony instead of letting them stand side by side, what did they do, they put their arms around him while they joined hands behind him.

This is so typical.  When Olivia needed a break from the mayhem of the reception back at the house, the two of them left their guests to tend to her before getting back to the party.

Doreen and Julia met 16 years ago while Doreen was touring with a Broadway show.  They went to St. Louis where Julia was working.  Doreen continued to act while Julia was a  stage hand. During their years together they have fostered about 12 children and adopted the three lovely ones I have had the opportunity to work with.   These two women make me laugh whenever I am with them.  I have never met a more caring and devoted family.

As I was taking photos during the ceremony last night, I could not help but focus on the looks of love and respect on the faces of everyone there.  The love was apparent everywhere I looked.

Julia is leaving for 7 weeks soon to be the production supervisor for the tour of Motown the musical. They wanted to do this before she left.  While she is gone, Doreen will hold it all together on the homefront.  They’re a team.  A well oiled machine and I for one admire them.

A Day at the Ball Park


This afternoon, I spent the day at a Newark Bears game.  Drew was one of the bat boys and there are a lot of games over the next few weeks so I plan to be spending a lot of my time there.  Sadly, the Bears have not been able to draw a lot of fans but I wound up sitting next to a girl and her grandpa.  I first noticed them buying their tickets at the box office.  The girl was so animated!  She was talking loudly and telling her grandpa how excited she was to be at a baseball game.  Her grandpa was beaming as he witnessed her excitement.  I smiled at them and got my ticket but realized I had left my umbrella in the car.  It was drizzling so I ran back to the car before I went into the stadium.

I got to my seat, which was in the front row behind home plate.  A great seat, but really due to the lack of attendance, you can sit anywhere.  I usually don’t get settled in my seat until I know if Drew will be the bat boy for the Bears or the away team.  He came out and told me that he’d be working for the Bears so I stayed in my seat.   A few minutes later, the girl and her grandpa came down and sat a few seats away from me in the same row.  The girl could not contain herself she was so enthusiastic!  She remarked on how empty the stands were but told her grandpa she was so happy that they got there early so that he could get her such great seats.

She knew so much about baseball!  She followed every play of the game.  She cheered for the players by their numbers or their names.  She yelled to the umpire when the fans thought he missed a play at the plate.  She knew all of the terms and even cheered for the player who made a “pick off” to cause an out.

Throughout the game, she kept telling her grandpa just how happy she was and I heard her thank him over and over again.  Partially through the game, she began talking to me.  She told me her name and asked me mine.  She introduced me to her grandpa.  She asked me why they did not have many fans there, (to which I had no answer).  She told me that she was from Pennsylvania and was visiting her grandpa while her parents were on a vacation.  She told me all of the fun things they had been doing.   She told me about her school and she was not there because it was summer I told her that I was a teacher and I was not there for the same reason.

She smiled through the whole game and it was contagious.  I could not help but to listen to her and talk with her and smile.  It made me enjoy the game even more than usual.  When she heard that Drew was the bat boy, she clapped her hands with excitement.   Being so close to the field, and having so few fans there, the players could hear her cheering for them.  Drew is not allowed to give away balls during a game.  Sometimes the balls get really scuffed up and cannot be used.  There was one of those balls today that had been tossed to him by the umpire.  Between innings, Drew passed her the ball and you would have thought she had just won the lottery!  She was beaming from ear to ear!

You might be wondering why I chose to write about this in my blog today. I actually debated with myself whether or not to even write about it and what made me doubt myself because I don’t  like to attach a stigma to anyone. The girl I have been writing about, had special needs.  She had Down’s Syndrome.  She told me that she was 18 years old.  Not a little girl at all.  An adult in fact.  Working with all sorts of children for most of my life, I have become aware of how some people treat people with special needs.  Some stare, some show pity, some are unable to see past the disability.  Some are narrow-minded and have no idea of their talents. No one should ever be judged by how their brain works, or how they walk, or talk, or look. This girl was acting like any other “abled” person – because she was “abled”.  She was much more knowledgeable than I was about baseball.  I learned from her today.   None of us should judge another person and I did not want this to come across that way.  I was just so completely charmed by this young lady’s fascination with baseball!  We talked through a few innings and her enthusiasm was contagious.   I began cheering for the players along with her.  I loved seeing the joy on her grandpa’s face as we clapped and cheered.  It made me really appreciate how the little things in life really are not so little.