I believe that it's best to just tell the truth. I told the audience yesterday that I'd contracted a virus and was low energy for the presentation. I worked harder than I admit to keeping myself up and going for the day. The audience was kind and understood when I needed to quit 20 minutes shy of the scheduled time. (Although on a Friday, it didn't seem like much of a hardship to most.)
The day was full of conversations and a number of Rolling Around Readers came for a quick hello. It's great to meet those who read the blog - it keeps motivation up. I saw some old friends and caught up with them on how things are going. There were several self advocates there and I was thrilled that several had things to say during the day. One woman got up when I'd been asked a question about 'rights versus responsiblity and where does the need to instruct fit in there'. These are difficult questions, particularly given that I think many agencies are using the rubric of 'rights' as an excuse for what otherwise would legally be called 'neglect'.
Her question, intuitively, settled the debate. As always self advocates are much more reasoned than ever given credit for, much more subtle in their understanding than any IQ measure will ever capture. She got me out of a tough situation, rah her. There were several other self advocates there too. Two got up on stage to have their picture taken with me, they are going to email one to me so I can post it on the blog.
Anyways, this post isn't about the lecture, the kindness of the audience or the insight of self advocates. It's about what happened afterward. Joe and I were the last to leave as we (that would be Joe) had go pack all the stuff up in the car, gather all the evaluations sheets, ensure that nothing was left behind by us ore anyone else. I waited patiently while this was done.
When we arrived in the morning we were met by an elderly Italian gentleman who was strolling around the beautiful quadrangle. It was funny that, even though his gait was unsteady himself, he wanted to attempt to push me up a slight incline and into the building. He gave up with ready humour that wasn't cruel - quite a feat. He was there again as I was coming out of the building.
He waved at me, not in greeting but to stop, slow down. I did as bidden and he came over to me. He told me that he'd come by during the day and he'd sat out in the coffee area and listened to me talk. Joe had mentioned to me that the lecture was piped into that area, so I nodded. He said something kind about my story - telling. 'There were two girls here, they had ...' he struggled to remember what it was called. The two self advocates who'd had their picture taken with me both had Down Syndrome and both were vivacious and noticable, so I guessed, 'Down Syndrome?' He nodded 'Yes'.
He took a big handkerchief out of his pocked and mopped at suddenly watery eyes. 'I watched them, in there, and it really got to me. Seeing them here." Now he can't talk. I had all sorts of things rolling around in my head but he went somewhere different, 'That's what we went to war for you know. To stop that man from killing girls like that. To stop him from killing all sorts of people, but especially girls like that. Seeing them here today, it made me think of the men who died, that maybe it was all worth it.' He was completely choked up ... 'I'm sorry' he said, 'I've been thinking about the war a lot these days. I don't know why. Most days I wonder if it mattered that all those boys were lost. But then today ...' He mopped his eyes again and simply waved goodbye.