"I felt like an eagle"
(Two of my aunt’s children have spina bifida (both are adopted, so there is no genetic link to our own unborn baby boy’s spina bifida). I haven’t had the courage to call and talk to her yet--I’m still feeling tender and raw over the discovery, and I’m not yet ready to face it to that extent. Fortunately, she understands, and my mother says she’s ready to talk with me whenever I’m ready. I’m going home for a visit in two weeks (to help my mother pick out a headstone for my father’s grave, because I’m the geologist and I know the most about rocks), and I’ll probably meet with my aunt then. My mother, of course, has been talking to my aunt about our baby, and sharing some of the stories with me secondhand. This story is about the older of my aunt’s sons with spina bifida, Aaron.)
Aaron has finally found his niche in life--in a skate park, doing wild and crazy (not to mention dangerous) stunts. This is not unusual for a teenager, but Aaron’s situation is a little different. He is paralyzed from the waist down, and confined to a wheelchair. For the last two years, he has been going to the concrete skate parks and trying all the tricks he can think of--he practices with skateboarders and dirt-bikers. He loves it, and it shows in his attitude toward life.
This is what Aaron wants to do “when he grows up”. He wants to help other children with disabilities to feel like “eagles”. This is what I want to do with my own little boy--to teach him not be earthbound and restricted because of his challenges. I don’t know how to do it, yet. But I am so grateful for Aaron’s example, for his parents’ examples, in showing me it can be done. We can teach our little baby how to fly.(*Edited for correction--Originally I mistakenly wrote "Special Olympics" instead of "Para-Olympics". The Special Olympics are for mentally disabled athletes, the Para-Olympics are for physically disabled athletes. BIG difference, in that in the Special Olympics emphasis is placed on participation, and the Para-Olympics are as competitive as the more famous Olympics. Thanks to emailer Kent for pointing out my mistake!)