27 July 2013

"Don't Be Cruel"

Settle in, people, this is a longer post than usual

With some extra time on my hands today after running (literally) back from dropping off our own weapon of environmental mass destruction (the beloved Yukon) to get the A/C looked at, I slumped down on the couch in the preferred "stupor" position (see my previous post), and I began to channel surf. I happened on to a recently shown HBO documentary call "Miss You Can Do It."

If admitting that from the moment I started watching it that I cried revokes my man card, then so be it. I don't care. My grasp on that card has grown less and less firm from the moment Our Lady of Awesome announced she was getting married (I cried) and now that I am a grandfather (I cried), my grasp on said card was tenuous at best. Regarding the crying, trust me these are not hideous Glenn Beck claptrap tears that misguided people actually pay to see, but tears of a man who is coming to realize tears have a powerful effect on he who sheds them. I probably should not have held so firm on the "no crying" rule when the kids were growing up, but that's a post for another day or for a therapy session. Back to this documentary...

The backstory involves a former Miss USA contender who has cerebral palsy and was the first 'disabled' contestant in that pageant's history. She has gone on to start a pageant called the 'Miss You Can Do It' pageant for girls living with a range of disabilities from cerebal palsy to Down's Syndrome. Now this sounds treacly and parts of it are, no doubt. But when you see the joy that comes over these sweet children as they get to do things the world said the could never do, it's pretty amazing.

What's also amazing are the stories of the families. One family in particular was especially moving. They had two sons and then a girl born with Down's. Knowing that she would be without others like her, soon after her birth these parents adopted a Ukranian girl who also had Down's. Soon after, their home was vandalized - graffiti demanding that the 'retards leave.' A couple of things - what was actually spray painted on the outside walls of their home and car was far worse and their two older sons were able to read it and two, the miscreants who did this could not spell, at all. I feel fully confident that the irony of that will forever be lost on those who perpetrated the crime. The father took it as an opportunity to teach his sons about the chances they'll have to protect and defend their sisters. It was beyond powerful.

Another father seemed to sum it all up, and I didn't get the quote right because I got very emotional when he said it. He was expressing his hope for his girls, affected by different challenges, to have a normal life and that they wouldn't experience cruelty. "Don't be cruel," was all he said and that tore it wide open for me. Three simple words. If followed, they would make all the difference in the life of his girls. Those three words - don't be cruel - are haunting. I regret those times in my life when I did not heed those words. What a different place this world would be if we lived by those three words...

As I watched the documentary, I thought over and over about my three children. I literally found myself thanking my Father in Heaven for them and for the blessings they've brought the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and me. I am so grateful for their health. I thought of my first grandchild and again counted my blessings. I do not know why I've been blessed in this way. But I am no more blessed than the parents I saw in the film. How they spoke about their children was inspiring and humbling. I thought of friends who have raised amazing special needs children. I count myself fortunate to be able to have their example in my life.

As I think my friends raising or who have raised these amazing children, I realize that we want the same thing that dad wanted - don't be cruel. Don't be cruel to my child. Don't be cruel to anyone. Is that really too much to ask?

1 comment:

Monty Newlin said...

Michael, do not think for one instant that tears diminish your hold on your "man card." The male who cannot cry is more machine than man and his hard aloofness will cause more pain to others than he can imagine. Our Savior often wept. And we dare not forbid what He allowed. He never hesitated to call people to abandon the wrong. But He was never cruel in doing so. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful account.