There’s the Olympics which get attention and Olympians who get the glory.
Then there’s the Paralympics which get less attention and Paralympians who are sometimes seen as lesser athletes than able-bodied ones.
*Robert Fulghum puts it better than I could:
The competitors at the Paralympics are people with no legs or arms who swim and row and cycle and run and jump. People who are blind and deaf and run races. People with Down Syndrome compete. There’s the guy who had no arms who won silver in archery, for god’s sake, and many of the participants have been torn apart in military combat and came back to compete with what was left of their bodies. . .
The mantra of our times is that “we gotta have hope,” but the competitors at the Paralympics live hope. Hope is not an abstract ideal for them – it’s a reality created by courage and pain and determination and . . .
I am in awe of the determination, focus, hard work and sacrifice it takes to get to the top in any sport. Olympians or Paralympians – they’re all champions in my eyes.
* I encourage you to click on the link to read Fulghum’s post in full.
“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):
1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first worked you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.” ― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
Today would have been our son Tom’s 28th birthday but he died at just 20 weeks as the result of a degenerative brain disorder, the cause of which has not been diagnosed.
Tolstoy is right and this quote reinforces my belief in the power of love.
It also reminds me that life after the death of Tom, and his younger brother Dan who had the same condition, is better not just in spite of their lives and deaths but also because of them.
Their deaths freed us to live as we couldn’t when we were caring for them but it is only because of what we learned from them that we truly appreciate that.
Their short lives and their multiple handicaps taught us to lose the ignorance and fear we had of disabilities.
They taught us that we are blessed by extended family and friends whose love and support provided so much when we needed it.
Our sons also taught us that good health and ability aren’t rights but privileges.
A lot of people tell me they couldn’t cope had they lost one child let alone two,
I answer that it would be throwing back the gifts our sons gave us if we didn’t make the most of all that they can’t.
Tolstoy’s quote speaks of the power of love and as Robert Fulgham reminds us in The Story Teller’s Creed, love is stronger than death.