Like probably many people, today is going to be a difficult day. Yes, I am talking about the Inauguration. When I was in high school, I volunteered at a program that was run out of my high school called Instructors of the Handicapped (IOH). We taught mostly children who were either mentally impaired, physically impaired, or both, to swim. The program ran from 1 to 5 every Sunday of the year, and was seldom cancelled. There were 5 classes, the first 3 were for the children who lived at home with a care-giver. These children were well taken care of, and lived with loving families who tried to enrich their lives. The last 2 classes were for the children who lived in an institution. These children suffered neglect. The institutions have since been closed down in my state, and the remaining people now live in group homes. I understand that they are much better cared for. IOH was a huge part of my life, and the most fulfilling. I had one child who was in the process of dying, and in my senior year she died. She added much more to my life than I ever did to hers. Another of my kids was boy with Epilepsy. We never knew when he’d have a seizure, but he was one of the best swimmers, and had the most positive outlook on life I have ever seen. But the kids who stole my heart, were the ones from the institution. Unfortunately, most of the other instructors would skate out around the same time the bus arrived, leaving us short on instructors – these could be difficult kids who acted out in inappropriate ways. They were hard to handle, could be frustrating, and not everyone could deal with them. I loved them. Over the years, I got to know them really well. They were mostly sweet and gentle. They wanted to be loved and to make us happy. I will always have a special spot in my heart for those of us who aren’t average.
The day that Donald Trump made fun of Serge Kovaleski who has arthrogryposis, I was transported in time. All I could think of were the bullies who have always, and always will, make fun of anyone who is not perceived as “normal”. In my opinion, we were all treated to a show of who Donald Trump is. He’s the bully in the class. And the rest of us had just better watch out. So, what to do? Keep being the loving people you are. Stand up for those of us who are not “normal”, stay true to your hearts. I know it sounds like a cliché, but be the change you want to see in the world. Be a shining star of love, acceptance and understanding. Be love.