During the 20 years that I’ve lived and worked within the mentally challenged community, one thing I’ve seen again and again. These brave parents learn to find goodness and joy in the circumstances in which they are forced to live. No one plans to have an intellectually disabled child. Each mom and dad groans with gut-wrenching grief when they see other children’s reaction to their precious treasure. They wince when adults stare, shake their heads and turn away from their child.
Yet, again and again, I’ve seen that these parents and their children learn to benefit from the grief, abuse, insults and sorrow. Laughter and joy emerge as their family’s life permeates all their relationships. Parents bond over bowling and special needs activities, in hospitals, and in the doctors’ offices.
In many ways, The lessons I’ve learned from them have made it easier to adjust after my husband’s death. I loved my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed being married. Nevertheless, I love the silence in the house, when I want to be quiet. I enjoy watching the TV shows that I want to watch, without any surly comments. I can go out to eat at any restaurant that pleases me. Or I can stay at home and cook all the vegetable I desire.
My husband was allergic to the vegetables in the cabbage family. Additionally, most other vegetables were simply put into the “NOT TO BE EATEN” Catagory, as well. I was never allowed to cook them during the years we were married. Naturally, vegetables–all vegetables–are my favorites.
Yesterday, a young pastor came to our meeting loaded with gifts from his vegatable garden. There were bags of egg plant, okra and jalapeno peppers. All things that I would never be allowed to cook, if my husband were alive. Without hesitation, I grabbed all three. I was planning my menu as soon as I heard what he was offering.
As I stuffed my portion of the garden goods, into my bags, I smiled inwardly. It’s not all bad being a widow, I said to myself as I picked up an extra handful of okra. Rice, peas and okra are on the menu. For sure, it’s not all bad.