RETARDED OR DYSLEXIC?

Suppose we take a trip to an elementary school located in a small town in America.   There we find a young boy sitting in the hall.  No one pays any attention to him as he sits there idly playing with his pencils, paper and crayons.  No one seems to care about him.  The teacher believes he is retarded because he can’t learn to spell, read or write.  He seems to be content to take things apart rather than pay attention to the lessons.

She reports to the principal that she can’t deal with his special needs because the class is too large and it would take time away from the other students so he is relegated to sit in the hall every day.  The principal contacts the local university’s early childhood education diagnostic center for assistance where he is immediately scheduled for testing. The findings were startling. He is not found to be retarded, but to be left-handed and dyslexic with mirror vision.  His world is completely backwards from that of a normal person.

The year was 1970 and the young boy is my son, Mark.  Strange as it may seem, it never occurred to me that Mark was somehow different.  Being the third child in the family he seemed to fit right in with his older brother and sister and life in general.

He was a shy, quiet child who just went along with the flow of daily living.  But, after the shocking news that he was unable to grasp the basic lessons of a first grade student I began searching for answers. A left-handed friend was enlisted to teach him basic skills such as tying his shoes, etc.  As he gained more self-confidence he became more verbal and less shy.

It was the beginning of life long teaching and learning experiences for both of us.  Mark and I spent many hours together working hard on his school lessons. Looking back I firmly believe he showed signs of AD/HD Syndrome, which was an unknown issue in the 1970’s. Although he didn’t rank at the top of his class, he was taught the skills necessary to learn and graduated from high school with his class. At the age of 16 he volunteered with the local fire department and began his journey into the world of saving lives. Today Mark leads a productive life as an EMT/Fireman in the town where he lives in Texas.

Because of family dynamics Mark and I had not seen each other for the past 15 years until this past week when he came to Colorado to visit me. Communicating via electronic devices can’t compare to seeing him again in person. My shy, quiet son has grown into an outgoing, confident man.  I’m glad I had the opportunity of embracing him and telling him in person how proud I am of him and his many accomplishments.  The choices and decisions he made for his life were not easy ones, but with the support and help from mentors and encouragement from his family, he has achieved the lifetime goals he set for himself many years ago.  When asked what he enjoys most about his job his answer is quick and firm: “Saving lives everyday.”

I believe that if special education programs had been in existence when Mark was a young boy, the learning process would have been at a much higher level for him. Choices in education are not only desirable, they are absolutely necessary.  Quality education for all students is vital not only for them to succeed in life, but as a whole for the community in which they live.

 

 

A MOTHER’S STORY

Have you ever thought about who the women were that stood near the cross when Jesus was crucified? In my mind’s eye I see them as they watched….helplessly.  It wasn’t a pretty sight…and I find A Mother’s Story……

It was mid-day, though dark as night…and damp. Shadows clung to the stone walls and uneven streets of the city. Everywhere there was an eerie silence. Out of the shadows stepped a small woman with a cloak draped across her shoulders. Quickly she  scurried through the stillness, seeking for truth. Hours before these same silent streets were filled with throngs of people clamoring over the excitement of the trial. The mob screamed for the release of Barabbas and cried for Pilate to crucify the one called Jesus of Nazareth, “King of the Jews.” Some blamed the turn of events on the politics of the day.  The political climate seemed to dictate that something drastic happen to arouse public opinion and turn attention away from the real issues confronting the government.  If this so called ‘Christ’ was indeed who he claimed to be, he was dangerous to the over-all political plan.

Suddenly, she came to the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas. This was the same place where the chief priests, scribes and the elders of the people had assembled just a few short hours before. Quietly she slipped through the side door, whispered to the guard on duty and was led down the corridor to a small room. A single candle burned on the table. As the light flickered, Caiaphas approached through the open door. The figure seated at the table dropped the cloak revealing the frail looking woman who appeared to be in her mid-forties with graying hair. Softly she made inquiry about her son. Rumors had spread quickly through the city and she must know the truth.        Caiaphas threw back his head and laughed uproariously as she spoke. Yes, indeed he knew her son.  A fine young man; strong of body, but possessing a weak spirit and easily swayed by public opinion. However, with a few years of training she would have good reason to be proud of him. The priest was stricken with disbelief as she once again spoke of her son.  He rose, pulled a pouch from his robe and placed it in her hands. Turning to leave, the mother of Judas Iscariot flung the pouch at Caiaphas sending the thirty pieces of silver clinking on the stone floor just as they had done hours earlier. Caiaphas moved toward her to offer comfort in the death of her son. Running quickly down the corridor and through the door, she found herself back on the quiet streets and continued on her way, not knowing where to go.

The weather’s chill gripped her whole being. If only her son hadn’t been so headstrong, so rebellious. His life could have been so different if he had only listened to Jesus. She had hoped that just being with his followers and seeing first-hand the miracles he performed would kindle in him a thirst for righteousness. Even though he was included in the inner circle, his attitude remained cynical and self-serving. And, it was his personal choice to betray the one who loved him so much.

As she made her way through the darkness she found herself staring in disbelief. There on Golgotha hung three men, each nailed to a cross. Carefully staying in the shadows, she moved closer. Standing there she saw John lead Mary, the mother of Jesus, quietly away. Close by stood Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joses, along with the mother of Zebedee’s children. These women who followed Jesus from Galilee were now standing in the shadows with heavy hearts. She was filled with grief and despair.

Through the stillness, she lifted her eyes toward Jesus and heard as he spoke from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” With tears streaming down her face she slipped away from the shadow of the cross and slowly made her way home to bury her son.