Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dear Dad,

I know we haven't talked in a while, due in no small part to the fact that you died of pancreatic cancer in 1978. That's still a drag, you know.

I am thinking of you today, wishing you were here for the history being made, wondering what you'd think of it. Since I was just 10 years old the last time I saw you, I don't have a real feel for your views on race, politics, justice, America's place in the world, etc. Even if I asked those that had more time with you: mom, the oldest of your 10 children - blamelessly, they'd probably attribute to you the most noble and current of views. There is no way to know whether you'd actually hold those views if you'd lived another 31 years to see today.

You know me, I am no politico by any means. But today Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president - young (about your age when you died), a parent of 2 young girls, the first African American to take the ultimate oath. It means a lot of things to a lot of people. Many worry that expectations are too high, that anyone would have a long row to hoe with all the complications and trouble the country faces right now, much less this man with the experience he's had.

But dad. I feel hopeful. I see people giving things a chance, giving each other a chance. No, it won't change everything, but it's a start. It's an opening, at least.

You're aware of our family's need to seek as many openings as we can, touched as we are by disability, a minority itself. It's all about the hunt - for education, affordable medical care, acceptance, opportunities, faith in abilities, appropriate expectations, etc. Not all parents of kids with disabilities have the time, resources, strength to identify and muscle through these often narrow openings. I feel like hunting grounds have been reset today, like there are more clearings, opportunities in plain site, that may one day be easily accessed by everyone and not just the experienced, connected hunters.

This shift may not be obvious or tangible, maybe only in the attitudes, only in people's willingness to mark the door that opened today by recognizing where else they themselves may hold one open.

Maybe you'd be the kind of dad to caution me against such an emotional response to what should be an objective matter and one that hasn't even proven itself out yet. I hope you know that I'm the kind of daughter, though, that gave up trying to tamp down such from the gut reactions to things a few years back. Filtering my default responses has never led to anything grand.

Pop, I'm not saying that one that one day there will be a person with a developmental disability taking office. But I'm saying the attitude that makes the thought of it a hilarious joke to some may start to erode a little.

I will do may part for Addie and for whomever comes after her. Maybe there will be a day when we don't have to pound so hard on doors to get them unlocked.

Anyway, I love you. Just wanted to tell you what today means to me. Cate says for you and Grandpa Dick to keep taking good care of our babies.

Missing both what I remember of you and what I imagine of you,

P.S. Attached are some photos from just a few minutes ago. I bought Addie some flowers to cheer her up - another cold - and to celebrate the day. I have never known, and doubt I will ever meet, another person who so absolutely appreciates and makes the most of a simple bundle of fresh flowers. Pardon the sun glare, she loves this spot on the kitchen floor where it's warm and she can easily see her own reflection in the oven door.


Kelly said...

Addie really gives meaning to "stopping to smell the roses"! I feel hopeful too. . .

angie said...

Beautiful...your writing and Addie! I would LOVE to get our girls together some time....I think they would be like 2 peas in a pod. I think they are only a few days apart (Emma's b-day is 8-5-03).

I have hope also....hope of changes to come. I am optomistic that they are going to be positive changes.

Tena said...

Beautiful post. I will leave my political views out, but I get what you are saying. The pictures are gorgeous!!!!!!!!!

Kerri H said...

Amazing pictures..you always have that special way of caputuring those precious moments! Hope you're framing those! I'm jealous! Logan prefers monkeys!