Friday, February 18, 2011

An open letter to parents

I'm delighted to share a letter written by Caroline McGraw (left) to her parents, William (back left) and Donna Fischer (right), in which Caroline recalls how her parents have cared for her younger brother Willie (back right), who has autism. Caroline writes about “how to see disability as opportunity” at A wish come clear.

An open letter to parents:
On what your children remember

Dear Mom and Dad,

As your 28th wedding anniversary approaches, I’d like to tell you what I remember about how you’ve raised Willie, and what I’ve learned by watching you.

My first memory is of a diagnostic center, the playroom where I waited as Mom and Willie met with the doctors. When you came out, Mom, you knelt down to hold me, and you were crying. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew that something was wrong. I realized for the first time in my life that you were vulnerable, and that you needed to hold me. Yet what strikes me now is not the sadness of that day, but the beauty of your spirit. Mom, you reached out for me. You drew me in at a time when you must have wanted to push everyone away.

Likewise, you reach continually out on Willie’s behalf, seeking therapies and doctors and medications and activities and services for him. You encourage him in his interests, yet you also allow him the space he needs for himself, to be himself. You have taught me how to count his small victories, to see the steps of progress he makes as miracles.

Dad, I remember how many times you took Willie with you on work trips, on errands to Costco, to Edie’s for haircuts. You’ve made sure to include him in all aspects of your life. And I have never seen you act self-conscious or embarrassed by his behaviors, strange and frightening though they have been. You model a relaxed, take-it-as-it comes attitude for me and for others, and your corny humor dissipates many awkward moments.

In the times when Willie struggled with violent outbursts and self-injurious behavior, you took on bruises and cuts. You made sure to protect Willie from himself when necessary, and you’ve protected us as well. Rarely did you let the pain of keeping our family together show through. I can’t imagine what that’s cost you. You continue to keep the faith as Willie’s condition improves, and that patient trust is bearing fruit.

Of course, these things do not always come easily for either of you. I have seen you struggle. I have seen you doubt your decisions. I have walked with you into the places where there are no ‘right’ choices, only choices less terrible than others. I have sat with you on the floor of our upstairs hallway, none of us knowing what to do or how to carry on.

We have been totally at a loss, and yet we have never been 'lost,' because we have been together.

I love you, and I am amazed by you every day.



So beautiful I'm in tears reading such a touching letter.

Thank you Sherry! I hope my parents will feel the same when they see it.

Dearest Caroline,

As an adult with cerebral Palsy, still trying to rebuild my life after years of triumphs and setbacks, I too thank my parents for their endless love and sacrifice. For, I can also say, "They are a wonderful part of who I am."

May we never waver or yield in the face of adversity, even if it is unknown, as we take our lessons to heart and infinitely search for ways to give back all that we have been given.

I pray that you, and those hold most dear, forever live the life of your dreams.

Wholeheartedly yours,

Matt Kamaratakis

what an incredible letter from this young woman. I can only hope my daughter is able to view her life this way.

Thank you Matt and Lisa! I was/am much in need of encouragement this morning, and your words are answers to prayer.

I too was moved by this letter. It is so full of insight and understanding and compassion and shows me that siblings can be broadened in a very positive way by their experience with a brother/sister with disability.

Thank you Caroline for sharing! Louise

Thank you Louise! It's been wonderful to hear comments like yours, and to 'meet' others who can relate.

What an incredible letter and an amazing family. Thanks for sharing a look into their world and their life journey.

Thank you for reading, carolinaheartstrings! Here's to continuing our journey together.