October 15th is a date that is seared in my mind. Some years it comes and goes without much thought and others it is so present I can’t escape the memories. Today was the latter as we attended a Caregivers Connection meeting. I received helpful information and good tips. Certainly connecting with others in similar situations helps to support each other. Many people become caregivers to aging parents and their lives are turned upside down later in life. I’ve been a hands on caregiver for over 39 years now. Pretty much 24/7 with short respites thanks to family and sitters. There are many parents of children with disabilities in this same club.
The year was 1980 when Mike and I borrowed my parent’s blue Cadillac and took Jacob to Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans. His pediatrician had finally agreed with me that he wasn’t developing as he should. After a day of testing, we met with the neurologist where we heard things like, “he’ll never progress as other children. He may not talk or even walk.” “Prepare for a life long battle.” “Severe.” “Profound.” I was such a young mother and really didn’t have a clue what Dr. Tardo was explaining. Certainly not at all prepared for what we were hearing. Could not grasp what this would look like for our future. I remember asking, “is it possible he can catch up by the time he’s in first grade?” Shaking her head, “I’m sorry Mr. & Mrs. Pigford”. What a hard day as we sat in the car and held each other crying. Her written report used the term “globally retarded”. To say my dreams for Jacob and our family were shattered, is the biggest understatement of all times. We were quickly surrounded by family and friends who loved on us in amazing tangible ways. A friend brought butterscotch sundaes from Dairy Queen. A minister from our church prayed with and over us. Immediate and extended family cried and prayed. There were countless shared tears. And so, so many cards of love and encouragement. We knew we weren’t alone. One of the sweet things shared with us soon after our return home was this poem. While I haven’t understood God choosing me, it helped restore my hope. Jacob wasn’t a mistake and God would most certainly provide. The gift of Jacob was straight for the heart of God. The pain of October 15, 1980 isn’t forgotten but the assurance of perfect healing one day far outweighs its crippling power over me.
HEAVEN’S SPECIAL CHILD
A meeting was held quite far from Earth.
It was time again for another birth.
Said the Angels to the Lord above,
“this special child will need much love.
His progress may be very slow.
Accomplishments he may not show.
And he’ll require extra care
from the folks he meets down there.
He may not run or laugh or play.
His thoughts may seems quite far away.
So many times he will be labeled
different, helpless, and disabled.
So, let’s be careful where he’s sent.
We want his life to be content.
Please, Lord, find the parents who
will do a special job for you.
They will not realize right away
the leading role they re asked to play
But with this child sent from above
comes stronger faith, and richer love.
And soon they’ll know the privilege given
in caring for their gift from heaven.
Their precious charge so meek and mild
is heaven’s very special child.”
by Edna Massimilla
God has used things, circumstances, and especially people to direct our path, change our mindset and focus, open our eyes, and bring us hope, joy, and peace. Tune in and you can be comforted, too. “I’m sorry Mr. & Mrs. Pigford.” No need for apologies. Yes, we would’ve liked a different outcome but no doubt having Jacob has enriched our lives and made us better. More than we ever dreamed possible.