Friday, July 15, 2011

A Moment of Joy.

Photo by David Beaulieu

I love those little things that happen, probably everyday, we fail to notice because we have our ipods on too loud or Fox News is on 24/7 or you have say 5 children who inherited a talking gene from there momma.  Those little things that let you know there is something else out there.  We are not alone.  Life is not finite.  Are they just wishful thinking or really signs?

I will keep this brief because talking about it too much seems to cheapen it.  It was so simple but gave me immense joy.  Mom called to talk to my kids as we had just returned from vacation.  Someone handed me the phone and she had something happy to share.

My father is an avid gardener.  He is a hodge-podger.  A little of this, a little of that.  It doesn't necessarily go together or make sense to an outsider but he grows what he likes when and where he likes it.  Flowers, vegetables, herbs here and there tucked around the steep hill outside his mountain home.  It keeps him busy and out of mom's hair.  He is good at it.  It's organized chaos to him.  So when a random flower popped up in the middle of his garden that didn't match the rest of his chaos, it didn't seem a big deal but Dad likes to know the different species and why would this one single flower pop up in the middle of his intentionally planted array of other vegetation?
A friend came by and looked at the flower and told them the flower that matched no others in the garden was named - a Becky.

****Note - in case you don't know, my sister's name was Becky.  She passed away at age 39, two years ago. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The R word. Still?

In an age where it seems everyone can "choose" to be offended at the drop of a hat I hesitate to write this post but it needs to be said so I will.  ENOUGH WITH THE R WORD ALREADY!  In the last few months (and twice this week) I have encountered people who are not ready to give up that derogatory and highly offensive slang that we hurled at each other back in the 80's like it was nothing.  I am talking about the word retarded or worse - retard.
This is not about being politially correct although it is justified in that sense too.  Its about being humane.  Its about growing up and its about not trying to cut down someone else by referring to them as a person afflicted with a mental condition or any condition.   The real problem is that the victims here don't even know they are being offended.  That might cause some to say, "then why does it even matter?"   I will tell you why it matters.
It matters to me because when you sit next to me telling someone else that you think its funny to ask your young child  "what are you, retarded?" and you don't stop to think that the mother beside you might have a special needs child or granchild then you are clueless.  Why do we think its ok to call someone a retard?  Why is it ok to continue to use an outdated term in an offensive manner?  It broke my heart to hear a priest use the word in that manner during a homily recently and no one said a thing.  Including me because I cannot bring myself to be the bad guy even when I should.  So I write about it and hope to change someone's mind.

Each of these incidents happened to me recently and in one case it was a teenager, that one I get.  I don't hate that child for calling my gifted son a retard.  She is a child,  a self absorbed clueless one is my bet but guess why she said it?  Because she still hears adults say it!  People have stopped saying "That is so GAY!" for the most part so why can't we quit saying something or someone is retarded?  People have stopped referring to people as "oriental" (unless your over the age of 75.) So why can't we quit the R word?  I can answer that - the offended party can't speak up for themselves! 

The third incident happened yesterday while I was sitting next to an aquaintance whom I previously regarded with a great deal of respect and liked  a lot because she's just so darn fun.   She won't ever know that her casual comment  caused me a great deal of grief or that my opinion of her has taken a drastic downturn. 
I have a child with special needs.  No she is not technically "retarded" or even "intellectually disabled" though if you observed her you would probably think so (she has autism.)  However, you wouldn't know by looking at her that she is supremely bright, she taught herself to read at 3 years old, way before the rest of my typical children.  She would classify as "intellectually disabled" on any test that didn't involve Mario Karts or how to program a dvr (both she is genius at.)  There is so much more to people than a superficial term, a single word classification of one aspect of the whole person. When someone takes a term originally meant as a description and turns into an insult it makes you think, whose the one with the impaired thinking ability really?  I say the one who calls someone retarded in the first place.

So on behalf of mothers and fathers with sweet little children who are intellectually disabled I beg of you PLEASE stop using the R word.  It matters to us.  It's not funny at all.  Ever.  Move on.