Kindness has long arms
During my years as a writer, I have often written about my daughter, Michele, whom we lost at age 11 to Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). It was back in 1982, but seems like yesterday. Yes, I still grieve – always will, as other parents who have lost children know, we just learn to carry it. One of my salvations, however, has been being able to write about Michele and the instructive, intuitive way she LIVED LIFE! More than two decades since her passing, those lessons still resonate, some at certain times more than others.
When I first wrote about an experience we had while living in Iowa when Michele won a prize at a local mall’s Halloween costume contest because she disguised herself as “The Fonz” and her wheelchair as a motorcycle, it was in a column as I remembered the kind, compassionate roller-skating gorilla who took an interest in her and turned out to be one of the judges. The column, which appeared here at the Herald before, was my attempt to capture the lesson in that: you never know the long-armed reach of a simple kindness. That of the gorilla meant the world to Michele that night. It means the world to her mother more than two decades later.
That story was recently published in one of the national bestselling Cup of Comfort series books. It’s called, “Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children With Special Needs,” and is available in bookstores and online, including at cupofcomfort.com. Though I receive no royalties from the book, I have had great fun promoting it. There was an article in The Herald, and there will be one in The Daily Telegram soon (I am an Adrian resident). A release I sent to my hometown paper, The Times Herald in Olean, NY got nice coverage and some attention for our families. I also sent one to the Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where that little incident that meant so much took place. I think a part of me hoped that, if they published it, the anonymous gorilla would see it and know the significance of one small kindness.
I also had a good time opening my first box of books when they came. My husband, Gordy, called me during the day the afternoon my pre-publication copy came, knowing I’d have to run home and rip it open instead of waiting until after work. I’ve enjoyed inscribing messages inside the covers of some copies for my family. It was practice for a book-signing events (one is scheduled for June 27, noon to 3 p.m. at Sounds of Light in Adrian). I figure it’s also practice for someday when my name is on the COVER of one of the books that I’ve yet to publish.
But what I have most enjoyed is a private satisfaction, a “soul’s smile,” if you will, whenever I think of a little girl who lived life valuing each and every moment and taught others what that kind of living was all about; a kid who courageously overcame the disadvantages of having a disability and chose to get out there and DO things at every opportunity. Michele is one of many children with special needs who provide needed lessons for the rest of us when we think we’ve got troubles. My soul smiles in reflection to the one that must be on Michele’s face in heaven these days as her stories are still getting “out there” for others to see, and now may even be read on an international level.