I recently began my third position with Easter Seals of Greater Houston. I am still doing the other two – thus my less frequent articles as of late. While it has meant less time to turn my brain off and write, it has also meant meeting amazing new people, and some of these are the dedicated parents and their amazing kids.
I am in the process of training to become a case manager for people with disabilities. This means home visits to meet with them and their caregivers, usually selfless and dedicated parents, and connecting them to various services. I’m just beginning this new piece of my career, and I have a lot to learn. But, what I can tell you right now is that the dedicated parents I have spoken with that care for their children with disabilities are superheroes – truly. I am in complete awe. I’ve never in my life met people more deserving of a vacation than the people I have met over the past couple of weeks. I feel so lucky to be able to help give them a bit of rest as part of my new position.
Today, I met a fantastic family. I walked into their home with my co-worker and the man we were meeting met us at the door in his motorized wheelchair. This was my first time meeting him, but he said hello to me like he had said it a million times before – genuinely welcoming, immensely kind, and somehow excited about the 3 hours of paperwork ahead of him – well, maybe he didn’t know about that part.
We sat around the kitchen table with the co-worker, who is training me, and his dedicated parents. Before we started, he said he wanted to show us something, and he had his dad follow him into the living room to grab a piece of paper. His father placed it on the tray of his wheelchair, as this individual is unable to use his hands beyond gently pushing a button to move his chair forward. He came back into the kitchen and proudly showed us his certificate stating he had made the Dean’s list this past semester.
You could tell by listening to him speak that he was intelligent, full of one-liners, and rightfully proud of this accomplishment. His mother then told us that she accompanies him to his classes every day, turns pages in his books, and writes all of his notes. When they get home, she helps him with his homework. He tirelessly searches for answers as she flips pages for him. His dedication to school and her dedication to him are amazing. But – he doesn’t stop there. After showing us his certificate, his father told us about the project he is working on with Texas Children’s Hospital as a volunteer. He is helping chronically ill patients who have spent a majority of their lives in the hospital transition forward to being out of the hospital when the time comes. They said that there had previously been no real assistance for these kids that are making these huge changes in their lives and this young man, who is completely physically dependent on his family, is helping change other people’s lives for the better. All I truly accomplished today was not smudging my toenails when I got into my car after my pedicure.
If the only time you saw this young man was when he was maneuvering around a college campus with the help of his mother, you might not think he was able to do very many things on his own. However, I promise you that he is changing people’s lives. I’ve never seen such an outstanding example of why you should never judge a book by its cover. My senior year of high school, my math textbook had a butterfly on it. Trust me – that didn’t have anything to do with the torture inside.
This young man was a bright, shining example of why abilities matter. His dedicated parents support has guided him in the right direction, and he is making them proud. They humbled me and when I feel overwhelmed with work, it’s easy to see I am doing it for all the right reasons and all the right people.