Being a nurse I have seen patients being dutifully cared for by their loved ones. Children and adults with varying degrees of mental and physical challenges who make it through each day due to the assistance of loving mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I have watched grandchildren feed and bathe their infirm grandparents during their final earthly hours.
Today what I saw was different. I saw love today.
“Peter Pan” was playing at our local “Broadway in the Park” Music Guild Theater this afternoon, allowing Katie and I a chance to escape to Neverland. I only saw the production in the periphery of my consciousness and only through tears. I sat behind a woman in a wheelchair, not an elite motorized wheelchair which she might have looked at home in; you know the type that you can tell is a permanent fixture for someone. She sat hunched in a chair that looked like a rental chair or perhaps it was a borrowed chair from a living facility. Whatever put her in that chair was most likely a recent event. Her husband sat in the theater seat at her side. I watched because I couldn’t not watch, I was drawn to the one-sided exchange being played out before me. He leaned into her and whispered in her ear that the show was starting. His hand hooked through her elbow, intermittently patted, stroked and squeezed her arm. She did not respond, she did not lift her head, she did not pat him back, she did not lean toward him, she did not cock her head to hear him better. She continued to sit hunched in her chair and he continued to try to get her involved in their “date”.
I had a clear view of his profile and I watched his features expose his emotions. He looked worried as he told her the show was starting. I wondered if they were regular theater-goers and this was an outing that he hoped she might enjoy as she had in the past. I saw hope as she lifted her head during a particularly rousing crowing number, the “er er er er” got her attention briefly.
He continued to stroke and pat her arm. He rarely watched the show but once a smile came to his face when something happened on stage that he must have anticipated her liking, when he turned to her he saw her face was down and his smile left quickly, he was crestfallen. I watched him inhale deeply as his shoulders shuddered and he wiped away tears with his hand that was not holding on to her. He frequently spoke to her about what was happening in the show, occasionally she would clap when the rest of the audience applauded. I saw sadness and anguish, but what was most apparent and what overshadowed everything else I saw, was love.
I don’t know their story at all, but my outrageously vivid, romantic imagination played out many scenarios. Perhaps they were one of the known “Music Guild romances”, having met and fallen in love during a production they were in. Or perhaps the first date they had as 17 year olds was at the old open barn Music Guild to see the 1950’s production of “Peter Pan”. Maybe they had thespian children who had performed in “Peter Pan” during their childhood. Due to their age I automatically assumed that the emotions I was watching were because of many years together and the sadness that those years are coming to a close. I could very easily be wrong about that. There is a chance that the love I witnessed had not been theirs for a lifetime as I first imagined. Maybe they found love together recently, maybe they were the 17 year olds on their first date at Music Guild to see “Peter Pan” but then their lives took different paths only to bring them together again just in time to share love before the tragedy of ill-health struck.
I have no idea what the story truly is. I only know that the lesson to me was, there is love – always, there is love. While Peter Pan was busy onstage, crowing about never growing up and not wanting to be a man and stating “I am youth! I am joy!” I saw a man. I saw his wife. I saw love.
If Peter Pan could grow up to be a man with a courageous heart like the man I saw today, youth would not be so enticing.
A friend posted this message titled Why Moms of Special Needs Kids Rock!
I responded with what is below it…..
Why moms of special needs kids ROCK!
1. Because they never thought that “doing it all” would mean doing this much. But they do it all, and then some.
2. Because they’ve discovered patience they never knew they had.
3. Because they are willing to do something 10 times, 1,000 times if that’s what it takes for their kids to learn something new.
4…. Because they have heard doctors tell them the worst, and they’ve refused to believe them.
5. Because they have bad days and breakdowns and bawl fests, then they pick themselves up and keep right on going.
6.Because they manage to get themselves together and out the door looking pretty damn good. Heck, they even make sweatpants look attractive.
7.Because they are strong. Who knew they could be this strong?
8.Because they aren’t just moms, wives, cleaners, chauffeurs, cooks and women who work. They are also physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, nurses, researchers, coaches and cheerleaders.
9.Because they understand their kids better than anyone else does – even if they can’t talk or gesture or look them in the eye. They know. They just know.
10.Because just when it seems like things are going OK, they’re suddenly not, but they deal. They deal even when it seems like their heads or hearts might explode.
11.Because when they look at their kids they just see great kids.
This is to all the moms I know that ROCK!!!!!!
1. we only do as much as possible, gratefully the rest is done by our wonderful friends and family.
2. we beg, plead, and scrounge for more patience each minute……when necessary we retreat to the backyard or garage or bathroom with a towel over our mouth to scream until patience returns.
3. on 999 someone gives us the encouragement we need to “just keep swimming”
4. we might let the worst soak into our bones, but we bury those bones under lots of flesh, muscle and tough skin and never let the “worst” find its path to our hearts and souls.
5. because others give us their shoulders to cry on, hands to hold, & arms to enfold us and they pat our backs, dry our tears, restore our laughter, and sing us the song that has disappeared from our spirit.
6. hee hee…..I just think this one is ludicrous…..BUT….on a good day we remember our undies and manage to brush our teeth, we might actually use preparation H instead of Crest, but hey, the motion is there!
7. others seem to know we are stronger than we think
8. anyone with a child does exactly the same, just different parts of these things to varying degrees
9. and we love those who attempt to understand our kids and who can point out things that we miss because we are too consumed with whatever we are consumed with at the moment. there are some very good things I might have missed if they had not been pointed out to me by kind, compassionate others
10. It’s the Scarlett O’Hara philosophy….Thank you, Margaret Mitchell for getting me through each day!! ~~I’ll not think about that right now. I’ll go crazy if I do. I’ll think about that tomorrow. After all… tomorrow is another day.
11. AMEN, no argument from me!
This is why friends of moms of special needs kids ROCK! you cannot possibly fathom the impact you have on our lives…..think about it, try to imagine it, then know that if you multiplied that by the largest amount possible it still wouldn’t be enough.
PS….my definition of friends: all of you who support me….including but not limited to, all family members, best buddies old and new, medical and educational people who happen across my path, anyone I run into in the Library, grocery store, pool, or parking lot who gets sucked in by my WOO 🙂