During this period of difficulty for many, I want to share a story of hope.
What happens when I’m gone? Parents often worry about the future as they age. But many of us feel it’s a scary prospect. Will my son or daughter be okay when I’m not there to support him or her? Is it too much to ask his sibling(s) to help?
Reggie turned 50 years old last week and he demonstrates that we can have a good life. But his bright future wasn’t guaranteed.
In his early years, with no diagnosis and Reggie sleeping only two or three hours a night, life for all members of Reggie’s family was exhausting. Later as a youth, Reggie would race out on his own despite locks and other strategies to keep him at home. Without words, a young handsome, tall, black, male teen faced additional risks beyond being struck by a car.
A trajectory for a good life was established through years of education, family nurturing, and other support including alternative funding from DDS after he turned 22.
In his early years, his mother Evelyne sought out assistance from teachers and others to understand his disability. A referral for an inpatient evaluation made a huge difference for Reggie’s life, not only in showing how he could learn, but giving his parents a chance to sleep through the night and become re-energized.
His father Henry provided an early version of police training to the Medford police and the police chief responded positively. They not only understood him, but watched out for him, even driving him back sometimes to his family’s home.
Reggie’s parents didn’t stop with his journey. They have mentored other families and Henry has had a long history as a civic leader.
As for Reggie, he demonstrated a strong work ethic, with a daily job at a dry cleaner becoming independent taskmaster. Jobs in retail followed. And when he was in his 20s, his parents knew that he needed a different kind of community living alternative. Reggie moved into his own apartment with support nearly thirty years ago.
At 50, Reggie’s journey provides hope for other individuals and families. Each recipe is going to be different. In Reggie’s case:
- Parents who persevere together and search for answers; they worked to understand their son, his needs, and goals.
- A sister who accepted life as it was and supported her brother and was joined by her husband to be there for him too.
- Others who personally supported Reggie, or opened doorways to obtain assistance.
- And let’s not forget Reggie himself, as he strove to succeed, learning and growing, and accepting responsibility for many aspects of his life.
Reggie’s 50th birthday was quite a celebration, one that I’ll remember bringing hope.
Reggie (at center) with his Family – Sister & Her Husband, Nieces on each side, Mom & Dad
Reggie featured in the background of the cover of The Arc of Massachusetts 60th Anniversary Book from 2015