Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Thanks Kathleen, from About. com for sending this out today!

Here is a post from Paul Dougherty, who works at the Cinncinati Enquirer. Hope you like it.....

Doc: A day for tears
By Paul Daughertypdaugherty@enquirer.com

There is something watering my eye, and a hole where my lip used to be. Lee Ann Womack’s "I Hope You Dance" plays in the background, mood music for what is to come on this boldest and gladdest of days.

"Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance. . .”

Jillian Daugherty has always navigated the mysteries of life with both oars in. And now she has docked, temporarily, hopeful and unafraid.
Lots of kids will graduate Saturday from high school. It’s a joyous rite of passage, at once an exit and an entrance, a renewed chance at climbing the airy stairs of possibility.

It’s a little different here. The words are the same, but the music is from another corner of heaven. Jillian, the kid with Down Syndrome, is getting her diploma today.

The child who couldn’t learn, has. And now she’ll walk from one life to the next, the unique mathematics of her possibility arranging itself anew.

I write about athletes for pay. I add myth to their deeds, donating words like “courage”, “dedication” and “passion”. It’s all well and good. Occasionally, it’s actually true. They’re mostly good people with tremendous gifts they don’t take for granted.

They’re not Jillian.

When talking with parents of children with disabilities, I advocate just one thought. It is the only road on the map. It can apply to everything and everyone, from sports teams to careers to the dreams you have for your children. It defines, in some way, Jillian’s day today: "Expect. Don’t accept."

Don’t allow your hope to be tethered to the perceptions of others. All we’ve done for Jillian is fight for her right to be Jillian. She has done the rest. The proof is Saturday, when the seas part, the world stills and she flips the tassel.

I could cover a million star athletes and never find the sand in any of them I see in my daughter. She has worked so hard.She wouldn’t ride a two-wheeled bike. We were told this. She spent four months in training wheels on the long, common driveway out front, pedaling and falling. She spent another month on two wheels, mom or dad holding the back of the seat. It took her five months to learn to ride a bike. Last year, she and I did 20 miles on the Little Miami trail.

She wanted to be on the high school dance team. She spent hours in the basement, dancing, before the tryouts. She danced on the JV team.

To some kids, homework is a pain. It’s like eating vegetables or cleaning your room. To Jillian, homework was a nightly Everest. An hour, two hours, occasionally three.

Tired, cranky, dogged. “One more,” she’d say, after about the 10th time going over a seven-word spelling test or memorizing some vital fact regarding the geography of Western Europe. One more time.

By the end of most sessions, the quizzers were more tired than the quiz-ee.

You learn to persevere when you start every race a lap behind. You understand that attitude is all, and a good one is all that matters.

Never settle for the path of least resistance. . .”

You understand, deep inside, that just because for you spelling two-syllable words is like climbing a tree in roller blades doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the view from the highest branch, eventually.

Jillian has done the projects, written the papers, taken the tests, earned the grades. The fastballs she sees don’t blow up the radar gun; picture Phil Niekro’s heater, not Roger Clemens’.

But she has maxed-out her potential. She will be the best she can be. No one who knows her doubts that. How many of us can say that?

The passage of time shivers our knees. Graduation day gets us all, in one jelly spot or another. With Jillian, it’s been a joy, a wonder, a pain, a pleasure, infinite sadness salved by timeless hope. A patience with some, a fight with others, a full-time yearn that, someday, everyone will not simply look at her, but will see her as well.

Maybe beginning today. Graduation Day.I’ve had something watering my eyes for days. They’ve been brimming like a full-moon tide. Must be the pollen. Has to be. I’m counting on it to rage Saturday, when nothing matters so much as the 4-foot-10, 100-pound spirit before me. She did it.

“And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance/“I hope you dance.”

E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/enquirerdoc


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