This is the eighth of these process logs from Mom's folder. They're sort of logs that document her research for her spring 1994 paper From Dependence to Independence. Instead of a log, though, these are more like mini-papers that are interesting on their own.
In this one, Mom talks about trying to set up some more interviews for her paper. More interestingly, though, she talks about some more of her own experiences, surgeries and why she wants to write.
The photo is of Mom and sisters in the 1950s. Mom is sitting in the middle back, a cast on her leg can be seen.
I still have some interviews to do, but for some reason I am kind of at a stale mate. I have had a number of people read my paper, so I have a number of corrections to add. I am still not real happy with my coverage of the special education in the classroom mainstreaming and inclusion. I feel like I need to talk with another parent and also talk with someone at Grantwood AEA. I have had some dealings with them in the past and I feel they can be very helpful. Like I said I seem to be at a dry spell. Maybe this week I will feel more like continuing.
It seems like once I wrote the paper and finally got it together that I'm done. I'm glad you gave us a little bit of breathing room between the next draft. I will be very interested in what you have to say about the paper. I feel it is a masterpiece, of course.
I also have obtained the address of my first and second grade teacher, Sister Mary Pius, and have written to her. I hope to receive an answer before the final draft. What if she doesn't even remember me? That would be funny. A year ago, I wrote a fictionalized story (Connie's World) in a fiction writing class here at Kirkwood. The story was of me in the second grade. I described my efforts and struggles in the second grade. This teacher was a central figure in that story also. It will be exciting to see if she remembers, but I would clearly understand if she does not. I'm hoping she can offer some thoughts on how it was from her standpoint so long ago.
I also had a call into the mother of the little boy in my religion classroom. The dad sounded real enthusiastic, but she has not returned my call. I hope to see her this week, so maybe I can talk to her. I would be real interested to hear her thoughts on mainstreaming and how she feels that it can or will improve the status of her little boy. I would also like to visit with her on how he was before. Has he improved?
It is interesting, but over the years I received so many questions about a variety of things. Everything from, "How do you manage at home?" to real private questions of how can you make love, or even think about getting married and having children?" Some of these questions still amaze me, although of course I answer them as best I can. People automatically presume that when you go to the doctor and he does surgery that will "fix" everything. For instance, when my son had some surgery on his foot two years ago, people assumed that this would make him so he would not need his braces at all. That is not true, it only made things a little easier. I am amazed at most people's confidence in doctors. For them, whatever a doctor says is OK. No wonder there are so many people trying to do everything there is to do to medically to live longer."
Well I have learned a lot in the past few years. That is "living" isn't everything, if you don't or can't do anything with that life. That is why I suddenly have this urge to stop some of the myths that people have with disabilities. It is quality, not quantity, at how we spend our life. I intend to get the most out of life that I can, knowing that this body of mine will not take much abuse. I know that I cannot take being on a respirator or anything heroic like that. That would be part of the extraordinary means that they speak about.
Back to my topic, sorry that I got off onto something different, but it isn't really different. For the most part, I have reached a point in my life when we have to realize that perhaps the only miracle that I will see is that I am still alive, I have a brain and am not afraid to use it. I am able to get around on my own and do many of the things that I want to do. Once I know the things I can and cannot do, life can take on a whole new meaning. Oh, by the way, it has to be my decision to decide what I can and cannot do.
I would love to speak on difficulties for the disabled, except that there are a lot of people that are worse off than I that I feel a little inept in speaking for all disabled. Maybe I am a bit more articulate than some people, though. In other words, I have a big mouth. That is why I started a story about a child who is disabled and of her struggles. There are no miracles here, either, just facts about some wonderful people and some not so wonderful. For those who cannot seem to change their image that disabilities are debilitating, there probably is no answer. But for the individual who has an open mind and believes that everyone has a right to his or her happiness, I would be glad to speak with them and enlighten them further. These people are a delight to visit with as you talk frankly with them. I hope, however, that is not the only reason why people are friends with me. I always said that I never wanted anyone to hire me because of my disability, to fill a quota of sorts, but in spite of it.
It will be real interesting in a few years, when these kids grow up and take over the country. We will see if there are any change of attitudes. These kids who have gone to school with the disabled children and have treated them with friendship. Their attitudes should be a whole lot different than those of their parents, who were separated from anybody like that.
We can only hope that the attitude will improve. From what I have observed so far, I am encouraged by the behavior of the young kids, even with me. My religion students rarely ask questions anymore and are always willing to help.
Connie, April 2, 1994