"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Adam High Point

It was in high school. A project was organized for students like Adam. A theatrical performance was to be produced with everyone performing a role according to their ability. Each student had two regular students working with them.

The Show went on. . To our surprise it was held in a classroom. It was a smash hit. There wasn't room for everyone who wanted to see it ,so it played a second night
Adam has always been a ham.. He loves an audience and his performance has always been self-directed. The routine was his own , from a combination of favourite movies and TV shows. All he needed was complete attention so that no-one would miss the little bits of business. . He was in his element. .We laughed until we cried. We cheered and applauded.He knew he was good.

The school project was several weeks in rehearsal.. He did a song and a soft-shoe shuffle. The Title "I'm just a Gigolo".

He wore white circa 1920's baggy pants a white shirt and bow-tie. A black silver-tipped cane and a straw hat. completed the ensemble. The music was taped. His timing was perfectl. He stood the cane on its end and strutted a circle around it. He twirled it and tossed it ,stretched it high between his hands and moved it to the music. He finagled the hat between his fingers and ended by tossing it over and back. Like every performer before him the warmer the audience response, the more bits of business he introduced. He brought the house down.

His Mum, Dad and I floated on the triumph for days. But there were a couple of puzzling aspects. Why had it not been performed in the auditorium with room for an audience? Why was there no talk of it becoming part of the regular program? Then we realised, the object of the exercise had not been for the kids like Adam. It had been to give regular students a chance to better understand them.

Soon after, my girl found him sobbing into his pillow. When she asked why, his answer was quick, simple.

"My friends." he said.

Adam had misunderstood the relationship between himself and the two regular students. He thought they had become friends. What happened i to make him realize it was not so,, we will never know. All we knew was the depth of his sadness. . We know that was not intended.

Adam didn't.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Adam was the highlight of the family gathering at Easter. Our numbers were down due to grandchildren living in places distant.. A couple of sons and families were no shows and no calls either.

When that happens I ponder my options. Should I shorten the list next time and see how they like that? Should I say nothing, as if it doesn't matter? It does but there is little I might say that would make a difference. It doesn't happen often.. If I dwell on it, I could feel sorry for myself. . So, I won't.

Anyway, it was still a crowd and everyone enjoyed the company. Robyn had made a video of her brother Adam at a swim meet. She played it a couple of times to cheers and applause.

There were three races. He came in first in one, second in another and was last in the pool for the last and longest race.

Adam's swimming has been marked with major advances. He started in the backyard pool like everyone else with small plastic water wings on his upper arms. They were cheapest of water safety gadgets and most effective. The young ones were proficient in the pool before they could walk. They bobbed around like corks. Nothing entertained them better. They were always clean. When they turned blue and shivery we lifted out, kicking their fat little legs in protest.

They had to wear life jackets when they were running around the pool. Then they would jump in at the shallow end and work their way to the deep end. Older ones went in off the diving board without jackets, young ones watched, waited and learned.

Adam, however, was cautious. He took no chances. He moved around the perimeter, toes clinging to the two inch ledge and arms gripping the concrete deck.

After a couple of summers he ventured to the diving board. Still he wore the life jacket. Nothing could persuade him to give it up. We had to learn. He would do things in his own time and not to suit anyone else's timetable..

His mother would exhort him to jump without the jacket. Cousins ten years younger were leaping and splashing on every side. Adam would roar back in admonition; ”Mum, do you want me to die?"

It seems only a few summers ago he finally jumped without the jacket and splash enough to engulf the entire deck. The whole neighbourhood must have heard his triumphant roar “Rocky!“

Then we noticed. When he went to the bottom, he lingered before he swam in a single movement to the other end.

Adam has an inordinate lung capacity. That should not have surprised us. He was always capable of drinking copious amounts of fluid and lasting ages without having to pee. When eventually he did, he would pee for ten minutes non-stop.We figured his lung capacity must match his bladder capacity.

He has been involved in Special Olympics for the last few years. His photo was in The Toronto Sun in full stride breaking a ribbon in a race. He plays floor hockey. Scored a goal in a Mississuaga Tournament last week-end and his team won .

Ice hockey was organized by a parent a couple of years ago. Adam plays goalie. Players ages vary. One young man of twenty-seven is autistic. In his whole life, he has never known involvement. Today he laces up skates and plays hockey.

Adam leads his team onto the ice like a parent duck with a straight row of ducklings behind.of varying shapes and sizes..

Two months ago he enrolled in a swim program. He has since been coached one on one. At the end of a lap he rises out of the water ,arm raised and his familiar cry of "Rocky". The swim meet before Easter, the subject of his sister's video, was the highest point yet. He came first in one race, second in another. He was flagging in the third but it was longest.He was las in the pool but he finished the lap.

Each time he reached the end he slapped the deck hard , turned around to face his mother, sister and camera, placed a kiss in the palm of his hand and blew it in their direction.

Adam will be twenty three next month. He has extra chromosomes, a condition identified as Down's Syndrome. Since the day of his birth, he has taught us much. His accomplishments never cease to amaze and delight us.