20 July 2007

All colours, shapes and sizes

God makes lots of people in all colours, shapes and sizes.
He loves them very much and what we need to realize is
that calling people names because they're different is wrong.
Instead we need to look on them in love, and sing this song:

I can be your friend (la la la) I can be your friend
If your hair is red or yellow, we can have lunch, I'll share my Jell-o! ...

I do love Veggie-Tales. :)

This morning my company attended an annual breakfast hosted by Chrysalis, a local organization that assists people with a variety of disabilities to find their place in the larger community. While we were there, I noticed a young lady crossing the field: she used arm-brace crutches and had to wrestle her lower body with every step she took, but walk she did.

When I saw her, my first thought was that had my daughter Jessica's birth defects been less intense, my little girl might have grown up to be like her: earning every step with exhausting physical effort, leaning on metal crutches while dragging her reluctant legs forward. Jessica had a spinal column defect that would have created mobility problems and other challenges, had it been positioned lower on her spine. As it was, the Jessica's spine was damaged high on her neck and resulted in malformations in her brain. She could not have survived with the incomplete neural structures she was born with, so for her, it was a blessing that she was here only long enough to say hello and goodbye.

Still, had things been just a little different, I might have been taking my daughter to physiotherapy, doing exercises with her every day, fighting with her for every step. I might be thinking about things like wheelchair ramps and automatic doors when deciding where to eat out and where to shop, or dealing with the frustration of people not shovelling snow from their walks because we can't get through with a wheelchair or a kid on crutches. I might have had to rehearse explanataions of the assistive devices that become extensions of a damaged body, and forced to develop courteous responses for rude strangers - pointing out that just because a body or mind isn't as quick as yours doesn't mean the person inside that damaged body or slowed mind won't be hurt by cruel words or ignorant stares.

I thought about how easily it could have been my kid who needed the help of organizations like Chrysalis, and I was grateful to all the people who work so hard to ensure that our community welcomes people who come in unusual packages. And, I realized that I'm part of that community, too, and I vowed to be more open and welcoming to those who could so easily have been just like my kid, had things been just a little different.

Jell-0, anyone?


  1. That was a very touching post.

    I think the only thing worse than failing to recognize people who are "differently abled" as only that and nothing more is when people act in token ways and pay lip service but don't really believe that people who are "different" (in any number of ways) should truly have equity. I just came from a meeting about this issue and the tokenism that went around in the table under the guise of being "helpful"... well, I won't bore you with the rant. But thanks for the post.

    I am sorry for the loss of your daughter and glad for the gift she gave you.


  2. Anonymous8:24 pm

    Bring on the Jell-o!! I agree! We learn so much from our personal experiences. We often wonder how our precious granddaughter will be treated by those that don't understand (or even want to try to understand) Down Syndrome. Thanks for sharing your heart. You are so encouraging!

    Love, AC

  3. You made me tear up, gf! Pass the Jell-o!

    "Every welcome mat, every welcome
    Is trying hard to say what so many
    People over look

    I hope someday, i hope just once
    We'll truely realize we're all equal
    Welcome is for all of us

    Everybody's different, i think different
    Is beautiful
    If we were all the same this world
    Would be unliveable
    This whole earth turns to intricate its
    That god made us different so that
    Means different is beautiful

    The path that brought you here,
    Is different than mine
    That doesn't make it worse or better,
    Just a different story line

    I hope someday that we all agree
    The author of it all had a reason
    For the difference in you and me."


  4. Anonymous6:24 pm

    After 36 years of being mom to a Down's child, we have seen improvements in acceptance but there is still a long way to go. The Amish call them God's forever children. I like that. Sometimes I think it is easier if the "forever child" is unaware of their differences...Jeff tends to be less sociable now knowing that he is different and that others may treat him badly. Tough lessons for him to learn and hard for a parent to watch! Great to hear that initiatives are underway to educate others.
    Auntie Sharon


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