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A Sense of Direction

The right attitude

June Donohue
Posted 7/2/21

 

There are lessons we can learn from the disabled if we just pay attention. My son, Jimmy who was brain injured at or shortly after birth (probably from too much anesthesia during a stomach …

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A Sense of Direction

The right attitude

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There are lessons we can learn from the disabled if we just pay attention. My son, Jimmy who was brain injured at or shortly after birth (probably from too much anesthesia during a stomach operation at 6 weeks old) definitely had the right attitude about his handicap.

Sometimes he would act more normal than the rest of us. There were times when we would be engaged in an argument over something stupid.( Michael and I once were arguing over whether we were having an argument or a discussion. I saw Archie Bunker and Meathead engaged in the same topic once.) And Jimmy, who was observing it all would say “Whose on second” from an Abbott and Costello routine.

Often Shauna, my granddaughter, who has Myotonic Dystrophy, reminds me of something Jimmy would say or do. One was “Don’t worry about it. You worry too much,” which is true.

The other day she told me that something Jimmy did made her feel very sorry for him. He would cry in church when he was touched by a hymn we were singing. She touched me by remembering that.

Derrick Tennant, a comedian who is on Youtube, is paralyzed on his left side and his entire act is him making fun of his handicap. But he also tells about his sister Julie who has Down’s Syndrome. People with that condition are missing one chromosome. They have 45 instead of 46. Her grandfather tells her that she has the right amount and the rest of us have one too many. Like Jimmy, Julie loves everyone. She has a shirt that says “I’d rather be slow to learn than slow to love.” Jimmy once had a shirt that said “Normal people scare me.” Julie says everyone is slow at something. Her brother is slow with the ladies and that’s why he is still single.

My father’s sister had what I now know was schizophrenia. I believe I learned compassion from visiting her in the mental hospital. My dad and his brothers did not abandon her but visited her regularly, even though she was 50 miles away in Middletown.

One time I remember observing another family visiting a patient and all the relatives were acting crazy, except for the patient.

When I was older and living in New York City, I would sometimes take a bus to Middletown and visit Aunt Edna on my own. It was then that I discovered that she could control her actions to a certain degree because she did not speak nonsense or act violent in front of me. I guess she didn’t want either of us to be embarrassed.

After shock treatments and my grandmother’s attempt to cure her through Christian Science, Aunt Edna was given a medication that worked near the end of her life. She was even able to come out for overnight visits. What a shame that remedy wasn’t discovered sooner.

Any misfortunes we all have in life can be made better with the right attitude.

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