We were just married a few months when I accompanied TLW (The Little Woman) on a visit to the doctor. I sat in the outer office as she went in by herself, and when she came out told me I was going to be a Daddy! Not that she was pregnant, or SHE was going to be a Mother, but I was going to be a Daddy.
I strutted home and walked about with my chest out, with I’m sure a stupid grin from ear to ear, very proud and proud of TLW. The thought of being a father was not new to me, but it did seem strange. The first thing I did was to purchase a set of electric trains for the son I was sure to have.
His name is Ellen Mary, and he is a she, and like all my plans this one needed adjustment too.
She was the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen, because she was mine. Her head was round, with pink rosy cheeks that accompanied a beautiful face and a full load for every diaper she wore.
As the year progressed after her birth, we started to notice little things about her, things that did not jive with normal development, her crawling at a late age, her walking, her not speaking, but in every way else she looked very normal. In two years, her baby brother was starting to surpass her in all phases of childhood development, and we knew it was time to deal with reality. We took her to a pediatrician and he guided us through the clinical ways of a doctor, with tests and evaluations and all the painful realizations a set of parents go through when these things happen.
I don’t wish to relive the memories, or burden you with the facts, and please don’t feel sorry for us. We can accept her mental retardation, and we use it to help us to help her, joining finally the Association for the Help of Retarded Children.
Every other Sunday we take her home from the residence that she lives in very happily, and feed her whatever she wants, pretty much doing all we can for her. She has a fantastic memory, and when she sees us for the first time on that Sunday, she jumps up and comes running over to us. Spreading her arms she turns us around and starts to push us out the door, to take her for a ride and dinner at home. She has a special shuffle and claps her hands, and becomes very, very happy.
Believe me, we are not special, we are just like you, but we have a daughter with a misfortune in her genetic development. Don’t tell us God choose us to be her parents, because it is just a way of saying: “I don’t know what to say.” There are thousands of families like us all over the country and they are no different than you, except for their handicapped child, put on this earth to help the human spirit to be more accepting, maybe to help us all to learn to be kinder, and above all to accept adversity as it comes.
Because of Ellen, TLW and I have given our time freely to help her, her organization and those who need services besides my daughter. When I visit her home, I take my hat off and say “Hello” to every one who is there that can respond; it is their home. The lonely but gentle people that sit mostly by themselves, in their own world of frustration, pain and I’m sure deep innocence. When I say “hello” some will become very excited, stretching out of the wheel chairs, or grabbing my arm, or just squealing in delight. One gentleman is very much a loner, sits by himself, and when I first saw him, I thought he wouldn’t respond favorably to my intrusion, looking away as he did, never ever looking toward me or ever with a smile on his face. I bent down next to his face, called his name and rubbed his back, and when I did, he turned his head and kissed me on the cheek!
So my beautiful daughter is 35 today, in her 35 years she has made us laugh, love, give, help and do for others that we would never have thought of doing if she were not born. She is God’s angel, but our burden, and our gift.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELLEN. I LOVE YOU.