By Debbie’s Dad
A look At the Past: Gratefulness
Debbie was born very prematurely and was in the hospital for many weeks before she could come home, and then her development was very slow for the first year. At about one year, the doctor informed us that he could confidently diagnose her with cerebral palsy. Debbie’s mom and I were shaken – because we both new people with CP. Soon we got her into therapy and then into a United Cerebral Palsy school (at age 2) and prayed for the Lord to help her achieve her best. We had no idea what capabilities she would develop, but soon it became evident that she was quadriplegic; she had limited use of her left hand and virtually no use of her legs. She progressed well and the Lord gave her a good mind and heart – and she loved school. By ninth grade, she began using speech recognition software (she is an early pioneer of the use of this technology) and graduated from high school in the National Honor Society. She proceeded to Community College and earned her Associates degree in 4 years, and then went to Concordia University (and lived in the dorm!) and within 3 more years, earned her Bachelor degree. As I look back on the first 10 years of her life, I never would have imagined she would come so far! Her mom and I are truly grateful!
My Perspective Today: Inspiration
Today, I am blessed to have a daughter that is a wonderful young woman who is an accomplished college graduate, a writer, and the most enduring person that I know. I am very proud her – but I would rather call my pride “inspiration” because she encourages me. I see her deal with personal adversity and frustration every single day – and confront it with patience, grace, and faith. Most people do not have any idea about the challenges of the daily life faced by the disabled – I get to see it up close. Debbie’s posts to her blog are major efforts even with her voice recognition software –a simple “copy and paste” is a major effort. And yet she plugs on without complaint – and with a glow of purpose in her smile. She believes that she is encouraging someone out there as she adds word upon word, paragraph on paragraph and blog post upon blog posting. And I believe she is encouraging people out there – even as she encourages me right here. Debbie is my daughter, my friend, and often my date as we go to movies and out to eat together. What a blessing to have such a sharp young woman to talk with, to discuss issues of faith, and to laugh with while watching “Judge Judy”.
Looking to the Future: Faith
It is not a secret. The greatest concern of any parent of a disabled child is the apprehension about care for their child when the parent dies. This is my greatest concern; it is a test of my faith in the Lord. I can try to set aside a trust fund, try to help her find faithful friends she will have through life, and help her find a place, a career, and goals for life, but I know that there will come a time when I will not be there for her. And so I trust the Lord, who has cared for us so far, and I make reasonable plans for her. We all look toward the future in faith, but I guess I do in a special way.
So, how do I sum up my perspective of life as the father of a disabled young woman? I live with fond memories in gratefulness, inspired as I see her live with difficulty and grace, and I live in faith as I trust the Lord for her future.