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Being different

9:15. We're doing better than yesterday; we're out of the house five minutes earlier. I back out of the driveway into the street, put the car into first gear and start up the hill. I see someone coming down the hill along the sidewalk that leads past our house. It's the same woman I saw yesterday, wearing a shirt and skirt and walking with difficulty, leaning on a cane. There's something wrong with her feet, or maybe her legs; I can't tell what. At any rate, she inches along, bent heavily on her support. I pity her. Then I reach the fork in the road where I need to turn left and I forget about her.

9:23. The 6-year-old has been dropped off at day camp, in a good mood. I am back on our street, heading toward daycare to drop off the 3-year-old. I see her again. She has made it maybe 200 feet past where I saw her last. I realize her impediment is serious. But is it really? She is walking on her own, able to transport herself. I admire her. Then I am turning into the daycare parking lot and I switch my attention back to my child.

9:27. The 3-year-old has cried again - the second day in a row - at my departure. He hasn't done this in a long time. I can't figure out what has triggered this bout of separation anxiety and it bothers me. I cast about emotionally for a bit, then remind myself he'll soon calm down and once again take pleasure in his friends, his teachers, his routine. I back out of the daycare lot and pull into the street for my 30-minute commute to work. As I reach the bottom of the hill, I see her again. This time, she's about 100 feet farther along. While I've been racing frenetically here and there, torn in multiple directions, my mind racing with conflicting needs, she's stayed focused on a single, simple goal. I try to catch her expression as I pass by. Her face is set but clear. She knows exactly where she needs to go and she is determined to make it. She doesn't look fretful, or harried, or anxious. I envy her.

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You have captured the essence

You have captured the essence of being different in a world that doesn't have a lot of time for 'different'. When Holly was little, her disability made everything take much longer than usual. I married into this situation, so I had to learn patience from her mother. A show of frustration or low grade grumbling, like you would do when any kid was dawdling, was not something that you wanted to betray to a child for whom everything was a struggle. If given enough time, she could get anything done she felt worth the effort. You might still end up late, however, no matter how early you started.

My wife Kathy would just squeeze my hand to let me know she could see I was getting frustrated, but we would get there, sooner or later. Any man will tell you how it seems that a woman takes FOREVER to do the things a man gets done in a few minute. Wash off your face, put on a clean shirt, run a comb through your hair, and we're ready. Women operate at different wavelength, and may not be content to sit in the passenger seat while you try to eat up some miles and get back on schedule. Her patience with her daughter taught me that it really isn't the end of the world if you don't get there when you said you would.It made me a better husband, I think. These are the hidden blessings of dealing with someone with special needs--they apply to other aspects of life as well.

We still need a car with dual temperature controls on long trips, however.

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Being different

Thanks for your comment, David!

Your last line made me laugh. :)



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Glad to be of service.

I'm glad to be of service. I like making people laugh, especially when it's on purpose.