Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pillars of strength

Yesterday was the 4th of July. We went to a presidential library. In that library stood beams from the twin towers. The beams were not burnt, but rather showed the impact of the planes. The beams were bent, slightly mangled, but had withstood the tragedy with amazing strength.

As I stood there looking at the beams and watching videos that accounted for the horrifying tragedies of September 11, 2001, I could not help but reflect. I thought about the amazing human spirit that lives within all of us. Like those beams, when dealt a blow, we do not falter, but rather keep going. Like the amazing first responders on that day and the survivors who helped others by carrying them down 60 flights of stairs or using their shirts as a tourniquets, we rise to the occasion when there is a need.

Parents of children with special needs have to be beams of strength every day. Many days we have to pull from the depths of our souls and show amazing resolve to keep going.  My Grandmother and Grandfather raised 8 children. Their first child was born with a condition called Osteogenesis.  They were told very early on that he would not survive.  He defied the odds. He had numerous surgeries. He broke his bones more times than I can even count, but when he died at the age of 59, he had lived an amazingly full life. He could not play baseball, so he coached. He could not ride a bike, so he rode a lawnmower. He could not do many jobs, but he went through jeweler school and started his own business. He married. He had friends.  He lived life to the fullest. He did all of that with the support of his parents and his family. He was a sweet man with an infectious laugh who made everyone happy when he was around.

I often wonder, as the mother of a child with special needs, how often my Grandmother felt like bending. I contemplate how she managed to keep her strength. How did she continued to be the pillar of strength for him and seven other children, especially when I feel like I am breaking so many times in my own situation? I am amazed at her strength.

Today, I am thankful to live in a country, where like my uncle, my son has the opportunity to defy the odds. I am also thankful for the many special needs mothers, like my Grandmother, who have paved the way.  I am thankful for the mothers, many whom I consider friends, who I watch every day be the unbending beams for their children. Those moms who pull strength from the depths of their souls and keep going for their children.