As I was parallel parking the car yesterday I heard that little "ding" that let me know I had an email. Often I don't even hear the tone and, even if I do, I generally ignore it when I'm out and about. But I was just about to run a bunch of Maggie errands and took a minute to read it after the car was stopped.
The email advised me that a man named Tim died yesterday morning. Tim was a middle aged man with significant disabilities.I did not know Tim, but I have corresponded with his sister Lisa who reads this blog regularly. She related to my stories about Maggie because she grew up with Tim as her brother. She adored her brother. In fact their relationship made me think of the relationship my son Tim has with Maggie.
In a time when it didn't happen very often and against the advice of doctors and the "establishment", Tim grew up at home with his family. There were not many support services in place and getting him an education was extremely difficult. But he grew up surrounded by the love of his family and thrived. Eventually Tim had to live away from his family to get an education but his family was near him and spent a lot of time with him. From all I have learned from his sister, Tim was a delight to be around. And now he's gone and his family is devastated.
Reading that email made me very sad and I mourned for this man across the country that I do not know. I sat in my car on Clement Street and started to cry. Tim lived his life in quiet grace, yet was largely invisible to society. That's true for many people, but especially for the disabled. Even though I didn't know him, Tim wasn't invisible to me.
Tim was a pioneer and raised by a family of pioneers. He stayed home at a time when "those kids" didn't. He was an integral part of his family, who made many sacrifices to give him the kind of life he - and everyone - deserved. They did it with love and dedication. They did it without the support I get for Maggie. The sacrifices that people like Tim and his family made a generation ago woke people up and because of that there is more support for the Maggies of today's world.
After a few minutes I got out of the car and went in to buy the supplies I needed for Maggie. It struck me how lucky I was to be able to get what I need so close to home because the world is just a little bit easier than it used to be. There is still a long way to go and I hope the next generation will benefit from Maggie's sacrifices as well. For now, I thank Tim and his family and families like his from the bottom of my heart.
Spend a moment today and send a prayer or a good thought to this lovely family who is mourning the loss of their son, and brother. And if you have a family member with a disability, send some gratitude to this family for their part in making our lives just a little bit easier.