It was a few days before Christmas. A few weeks earlier I received a letter informing me that my daughter Ellen would be receiving an award for participating in her day program for 15 years!
Being how #1 Son was home for the holidays, he decided to accompany me to Westhampton Beach for the festivities. Knowing the population as I do at the Day Program, anything is possible, but I figured that this event would go by quietly.
We entered the event a little early, and one of the program participants came over to me and said that I looked like Kenny Rodgers, and John Stamos was disguised as #1 Son, according to this fellow.
As we sat down, the time was drawing near, and we waited for the arrival of Ellen. Watching the door, down from the hallway she came, looking about curiously, while being escorted by an aid. Cool and calm she came, looking at me and not getting too excited, then suddenly bolting in my direction. Giving me a big hug, she sat down.
The event started, and it was time for Ellen. Jean Kelly, the MC along with a gentleman who ran the program for years started by presenting the 10 year awards. Then the 15 years, starting with: “And now for the 15 year participants. Ellen Del Broccolo!” I immediately started to clap, but was surprisingly drowned out by the audience. Ellen has a huge following! Getting her up to accept her award was another thing. She would not get up! Nope, no way was she moving. She may be honored, but she was comfortable. Her legs were crossed, her hands were together and she was going nowhere. After much coaxing, and the help of several people, she finally stood and followed me to the podium. Up she goes, coaxed and pulled, unwillingly, where she arrives to my relief. Being handed the award certificate, she promptly tosses it on the floor. The crowd is in hysterics, she hugs Jean Kelly and I embarrassingly retrieve the award.
But her antics were not the only amusement to be offered that morning. No, there were more awards to be given. As the names were called, we all cheered lustily, giving each participant a reason to be proud of themselves, a day in the sun for each. Who knew if they would ever have another day like it?
One gentleman was called, and slowly with his great physical disabilities and all, he began his journey to the podium. Walking behind him was another gentleman! I wondered what was going on? Was the second gentleman just roaming or was something else up? The first fellow got to the podium and took his award, while the second fellow just stopped and watched. As the recipient turned to return to his seat, amid a raucous round of applause, the second fellow put his arms around his buddy and they hugged! As the second fellow followed, he waved his fist in support of his buddy back to their seats.
Once the event was over, they introduced a staffer loved by all the participants, who was moving on to another building. Many of the participants wanted to publicly acknowledge his service to them and say a public ‘goodbye’.
One participant, with a wry grin on her face, rolled her wheel chair up to the podium and said: “All I have to say is: You better watch out, you better not pout, you better not cry I’m telling you why.” As she sang, she induced the whole crowd, parents, friends, staff, and siblings alike to join her in song!
It was the final glue for me to a happy and merry Christmas!
Please remember all those like Joan and DD who need