The Big Game
Dear Mr. May:
One afternoon I was reading articles from Exceptional Parent magazine to
my husband, Bill. When I finished the "Fathers' Voices" section,
I looked up to see tears rolling down my rugged husband's face. "It's
a good thing," he said, and walked out of the room, embarrassed by
his release of emotions.
Several hours later I was intrigued to find my husband frantically writing
away in a tattered notebook. My two children kept vying for his attention,
but Bill was entirely focused on the project at hand. Finally he took a
deep breath, scooted his chair back and said, "This is my story."
My husband has never been big on words or expressing his feelings. After
reading his story about his relationship with our son, Gregory, tears rolled
down my face as well. "This is wonderful!" I said. "Let
me send it in to "Fathers' Voices." He told me that it didn't
matter if I sent it or not. It just felt good to say what he felt.
I have enclosed my husband's story. I will keep it for my son to read when
he is older. After the birth of our second son, Patrick, who is now eight
months old, we realize that we will have new challenges and issues every
day. Thanks to Exceptional Parent magazine and "Fathers' Voices"
for the information, support, and inspiration.
While I waited for my child to be born, I was
like any other Dad. I dreamed of having my first son. I thought of how
I would teach him to throw a curve ball and catch a football. As a young
child and teenager, my life revolved around sports.
The day my son, Gregory, was born, was one that I will never forget. When
the doctor said, "It's a boy," I was walking on air. Then reality
knocked me to the ground. Gregory had sustained a brain injury after an
excruciatingly long labor and nightmarish forceps birth. He was rushed
to a larger hospital where he spent the next two weeks in neonatal I.C.U.
At least he was alive, but I felt completely powerless to help him.
As the months went by, we began to realize that Gregory was not doing things
that other babies had already mastered. After many visits to specialists,
we were faced head-on with a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. I am an over-the
road truck driver. The night that my wife, Cara, gave me the news, I was
in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I was mad at the world. I asked God and my
late father above, "Why has this awful thing happened to me?"
as if I were the one with C.P.
Four and a half years later the "son" is teaching the "dad."
Gregory has shown me that he has more heart and gumption than any ballplayer
that I have ever seen. Gregory's C.P. affects his right arm and leg, his
speech, and his balance. As I watch him working on walking and using his
weak arm, I have to restrain myself from helping him, as I know it will
be better for him to do it himself in the long run.
I have always dreamed of being a coach. Well, I got my wish. Encouraging
Gregory to be independent will be the biggest game that I will ever coach.
The skills that I teach range from throwing a ball to pulling pants down
and back up again.
I could talk about my son all day. As for most parents, seeing your child
take his or her first steps is thrilling. When your child wears ankle-foot
orthotics and is two and a half years old, seeing him take his first steps
is a miracle. I would gladly take his place, to make his life easier. However,
my son has shown me that I have little to worry about. He has the drive
to accomplish whatever he decides is important to him.
Gregory is my son and my best friend. There are parts of me that only he
knows and understands. Teaching him how to stand still in one spot without
taking a tumble or learning to successfully navigate the bathroom is a
much greater reward than winning any Super Bowl, World Series, or World
Cara & Bill Abbott
301 Hardin Street
Columbia, MO 65203
Published in "Fathers' Voices,"
Exceptional Parent magazine, November, 1994.
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