Thursday, August 18, 2011


As I am writing this, I am out-of-town for my 30th high school reunion. Graduated from a small, Catholic high school – class of just over a hundred students. Probably about a third of us have come together to have a laugh, maybe even a tear, stroll down Memory Lane, and present the highlights of our life, as of today.

Don’t have the most exciting life to report on, as I told one classmate, “A good day is when the house looks the same when I go to bed, as it did when I get up. Spend most of the day with a sponge in my hand and talking about the ice cream truck.”

My new favorite thing to say is, “All roads lead to special needs.” Never was that more true than last night. Seems everyone has a child, nephew, niece, sibling, godson/daughter, good friend with a child, neighbor growing up, etc. One classmate actually runs a group home for severely disabled, nonverbal adults.

Didn’t intend to dwell on special needs, but hey, what else am I really going to talk about if the conversation goes on for more than three minutes? “So, where do you live? What do you do? Are you married? Do you have kids? How many? How old?” Soon as you answer those, and often, while answering them, it’s just unavoidable.

Made me think about my daughter who has one more year of high school, and in eleven short years will be going through the same drill for the first time. Where will she be living? Will she be married? Children?

And then there’s Rojo. He, too, will be part of a small, Catholic high school community. One, that until the minute he walks in the door, has not (intentionally) admitted special ed. students. He is in the inaugural class of kids that will be in a small cohort amongst 600 or so (for the most part) four-year college-bound students.

How will his tenth reunion look? His 20th? 30th? Who will remember him? Who will he still keep in touch with? Who will be excited to see him? Who will have stories? How will he answer all the usual questions?

My wish for both of my kids is that they will be asked, “So, are you happy?” and regardless of the other answers to the other questions, they will both be able to say, without hesitation,  “Yes. Yes, I am happy. “



  1. I think they could both answer "yes" to that question right now. Rojo already has an advanced degree in happy, and it's contagious. His sister has a depth to her beyond what most teens "need" to feel happy.
    And his reunions, EVERYONE will be excited to see him, and NO ONE will ever forget him.
    No question.

  2. Yes, everyone - every single person - will remember him in marvelous ways.

  3. You have done such a marvelous job of helping your children identify and embrace the things that make them happy, I can't imagine any other answer. And I love how you manage to find a community wherever you go.

  4. I am in awe of how you managed to get your small Catholic HS to take on the "small cohort"! Wish you were in my area, fighting these battles. I'll bet you would have a lot to teach many of us who can only wish that their child with special needs could be accommodated. My 21 y/o son who has Aspergers made it (barely) from K-8 in our K-12 Catholic school that all but one of his siblings attended or attend. Our more severely impacted 8y/o daughter has been with the public school services from birth, but the past few years she has been welcomed to Vacation Bible School, as long as we provide her 1:1 aide. She loved being at her brothers' school! How I wish there were a way...