Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Quiet Man

The Quiet  Man-

 Some who know me will also know I have a son with downs syndrome. I do not speak of him often but he is sitting in the next room laughing occasionally listening to the radio. This year he will be 30 years old and I remember every day of his life. The day he was born until now how he got his name from an old John Wayne movie  - The Quiet Man. His name was Sean Thornton and that is my sons name. I remember the grave disappointment finding out he was disabled and the self pity. It was scarey there were a lot of unknowns and not  a lot of support back in those years. The doctors and nurses  advised us to give him up to a care facility and forget.
 We took Sean home soon realizing there were a lot of special needs , physical and learning. He would be slow in speech and physical development. He would not learn to crawl until he was two and walked much later - he spoke very few words and it took all the money we earned to pay for speech therapy at 70 dollars for a half hour a couple times a week. Actually it did no good , he eventually picked up at this own pace and we supplemented with sign language his communication skills.
  Financially and emotionally the toll of several ear surgeries mostly tubes to aid in the tiny canals that seemed to collect infection. His eyes were operated on to correct a disorder where his eyes went outward opposite of cross-eyed and a few other eye surgeries. He endured heart surgery - a dual chamber pace maker. Tonsils and adenoids - mental effects of the brain with seizures and some violent reactions. Going to a restaurant was not an easy task and we often opted to stay home. We bought a pool and he seemed to enjoy that the most of all - swimming.
 Years went by and we met a  lot of loving and supportive people - teachers , doctors and neighbors. We also dealt with the jeers and the other kids teasing as they will do. Sean did eventually get through school - high school he got an honorary diploma. He has a dog named Harley who stays at his side day and night - a Samoyed husky we got from a rescue that has been with us several years. He often gets upset if Sean spends an overnight at his brothers.
 Everyday I prepare Sean dinner and we eat together , my wife works in a state hospital till midnight. Often we will watch a movie or read - sometimes we play the Sony Wii (ha! ha!). I can honestly say he is a happy person, if you ask him he will say happy - happy! My advice would be to any parent not to expect too much and to be patient- very patient. Eventually your child will develop to a wonderful person and be all that they can be. Don't expect others to understand what you are going through because they will not. It is a relationship between you and your son or daughter, and take some quiet time to pray together. I find my son really appreciates everything and always is thankful.
 My wife belonged to the original Down Syndrome congress and was a board director of ARC (the association of retarded citizens). We always helped in the community and we raised several foster children of various backgrounds while their parents were in prison. I can say my life was full and have no regrets. I was a little league coach for 4 years and manager of challenger league baseball
for the handicapped. Looking back it is amazing we found the strength and Sean just tagged along - the quiet man observing everything. Perhaps it was he who gave us the inspiration to help others , maybe God did know best.
 Well it is time to put the quiet man to bed and tuck him in another day in our world.

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