Monday, June 06, 2011

A Blog In Three Impressions

I have three little impressions for a blog today. None make enough for one full blog but I don't want the impressions lost. So, here, for your amusement and perhaps edification are three little things that I noticed from the past few days:

What's In a Name?

I met a man with Down Syndrome at one of the abuse prevention trainings, who had an odd first name. It's not one often heard, even though it is the first name of a really famous author. I chatted with him about his name and he told me, and told me proudly, that he'd been named after his father. So he had a 'the second' after his name. I can't believe how incredibly this moved me. He was a child born different, with a difference noticeable at birth. He was born during a time when many families equated disability with sin and shame, when many made the decision to hide away what must not be known. He was born into a social lineage of abandonment but was claimed into a familial lineage of pride. I wish I could have met his father. I'm imagining a man of incredible strength with a capacity for love, remarkable.

The X Factor

We went to see the new X-men film: First Class at the theatre. It was full, mostly of men, mostly with comic book ink permanently stained on their finger tips. Me, too, I like these kinds of movies and I'd been looking forward to seeing this one. In this film it is explained how Professor X ends up in a wheelchair. For the first part of the film he is in typical action hero mode. At the end, no I won't spoil it, it is revealed how he becomes disabled. Now the whole film has this 'mutant and proud' kind of message (that becomes a little grating, I must remember that) throughout the story line. I had hopes then, that Professor X's eventual disability would be treated as simply another exceptionality - not a tragedy. Well, not to happen. While they didn't dwell on the 'tragic' nature of his landing in a wheelchair, they did certainly telegraphic the message strongly. Oh, well. I guess some mutants are more valued than others.

A Picture

Joe found a picture, the one that was taken formally at our graduation from university, and we both laughed looking at it. Hopeful faces, me with lots of hair, Joe with big hair. What most wouldn't know when looking at those two faces in the picture was the story behind the picture. We both had our appointments for our individual photo's one following the other. We drove there together and after we'd both had them done, we asked for the final shot to be of us together. The photographer flat out refused. R.E.F.U.S.E.D. No way he was going to 'waste a shot'. There was a real verbal tussle with him. This was a battle that we weren't going to lose. It was our money paying for the photographs, it was our decision as to what we wanted shot. We got the picture simply because, even though he got louder (as I think he realized that we weren't 'best buds' as he'd first thought, we were something more) we simply met his volume with our defiance. I like that picture not because I like revisiting a time of 'hair' but because it symbolizes for me the men we were to become.

So, do any of you have a simple little tidbit you'd like to share, if so, please do!


Anonymous said...

The bond of friendship

Well, earlier this evening, I called a number, hoping to connect with a very good friend with whom I had lost contact over the years, due to both of us moving, being ill, etc. Way back years ago, we were both somewhat naive about life and my viewpoints were, at least, at that time, mostly formed by those I respected (in the sense that I adopted the beliefs of those I respected; versus, adopting beliefs because "I" actually believed them). I guess I aways thought that these "respected" people must be right. As I've aged, I've learned that my beliefs must come from within me, otherwise, I'm just living a lie ... not just before others, but for myself too .... so, little by little, I'm figuring out WHO I really am, and WHAT I really believe.

Upon entering the numbers, I was sooo happy inside; but a bit nervous too, when I immediately recognized my friend's voice answer the phone, and started a conversation with her .... considering we had not seen or spoken to each other in well over 16 years.

She's thought of me a lot over the years, and mentioned that just a few days ago looked at a cross-stich picture I had made for her years ago ... and wondered where I was and what I was doing.

Because so many things have changed in our lives over the years, we are both very different people. And, we both had little fears of being rejected and/or judged ... and this "fear" kept us from reaching out to one another.

I am so glad that I connected with her, and I am glad that we had a lengthy conversation.

In some ways it seems like we picked up where we left off (as if we have been in touch all of these years); but, in other ways, there is sadness, because we have missed out on so many years of one-another's life ... such as the birth of my son, and the birth of her son.

I am excited to get to know her and her family. Our viewpoints on life are much clearer and broader now that we are both older. Not to say that we know it all, by any means; but, we both have realized that there is much more to life than the beliefs, etc. that we were impressed upon to believe as "right" and "wrong", and, in various ways over the years, we have taken steps of confidence to "step-out" and determine our own beliefs ... even if it meant rejection, ridicule, or even excommunication.

We're both still on our journey (or at least I can confidently say I am, as I still do not know WHO I am yet); but, I'm glad that the true bonds of love and friendship never die ... despite the time that has passed.


Shan said...

Somerset? Truman? Stieg?

I know the photos - Grandma had them framed on an end table. You are wearing burgundy gowns and tassels, and Uncle Joe has biggish glasses...two most sober young men!

coffeetalk said...

The other day, while at work in the "day program", I had an interesting, spontaneous conversation with a young woman who is affected by a developmental disability. The conversation was initiated by her and led by favourite kind of convo, BTW. We were listening to her CD by Lemonade Mouth (this was a new group to me too!) and she asked me if I've ever demonstrated for what I believe in. Now the word "demonstrated" stopped me, because I stand up for what I believe in every day and have been known to put myself in uncomfortable positions when verbally doing so, but demonstrating? Then I remembered the letter-writing campaign that you mentioned here when a political candidate was using the "r" word in a demeaning way on his campaign website. I described this to her and she thought about it for a minute. She then said....and I quote...."I don't really think that counts!". I asked her why and she said....again, a quote....I think it only counts if you have a sign that says LOUD and PROUD!". I guess I need to step up my game a little bit. Subtle demonstrating sometimes doesn't get the job done, I suppose. Have a great day!

Kristin said...

I truly love the story about you and Joe and the picture.

Oh, and one more thing... said...

My 6 year old daughter with Down syndrome told me "I told you so" for the 1st time today. Her glasses were right where she had said, but I hadn't believed her.

Noisyworld said...

The impressions in my head right now are all to do with age, I recently had another birthday (well into my 30s now) and I came across a school photo from when I was 16.
I was queen of the frizzy hair and the glasses which didn't really suit me :(
For years and years I hated this photo, now I think I have the distance to see myself as young, sweet and (18 months away from the accident which changed my life) completely unaware of the things that people have to do to live an everyday life when they look "normal" but have to work really hard to reach anywhere near "normal".

coffeetalk said...

"Oh, And One More Thing", I LOVE that you're daughter said I told you so. I work with people affected by disability and LOVE working with the people who look me in the eye and say "NO" when they are asked to do something that they don't want to do. Some people call it defiance....I call it self advocacy!

Melissa said...

Your story about the name really touches me. We didn't find out the sex of our baby ahead of time, nor did we find out for sure if our baby had Down syndrome for sure. We were fairly certain, but were comfortable waiting until she arrived to know for sure. If she had been a boy, her middle name would have been Grandfathers name, and I was very concerned that hubby's family wouldn't have seen us naming our baby with Down syndrome after him as much of a tribute. I'm glad you met someone who knew that this really is an honor!

Deborah said...

Dave have you see the new PSA about not using the R word? The actors in it are from Glee. I thought you would've seen it by now, I am dying to hear your comments on it!

Nan said...

My daughter Jessie, who has Down syndrome, was named after my grandmother (an ardent feminist and socialist who always worked in human services). When 'wee Jessie' was born and we found out that she had Down syndrome, my grandmother said "I am proud to have her named after me and I hope that I can share some of my strength and stubborness with her, along with my name." Little did she know!!!!

Blog editor said...

We planned give our baby three names if a boy - his own and one from each grandfather. When he was born with Down syndrome my Dad asked tentatively if he would still have the "whole moniker". I'm still not sure if he was afraid he would or would not, but he seemed pleased that of course he would have the name we'd chosen. Ironically, my son doesn't like his two middle names and refuses to acknowledge them as his - they are his grandfathers'.