A long-time friend wrote me a note over the weekend after reading my new book, “Some People Even Take Them Home” A Disabled Dad, A Down Syndrome Son and Our Journey To Acceptance.
He wrote: “At first I thought it was a book mostly about how Tim sees the world. Then Jason, then the “fambly.” Then it started to be me thinking about how I saw the world. It grabbed me.” That email was not the first of its kind I had received. One of the Amazon book reviewers wrote, “When the last word is read, one is likely to lay down the book (or Kindle reader) and feel inspired, simply, to make more of oneself.” Another reader wrote, “It was as if I was living the experiences.”
This is my first book, but I am pretty sure that is the goal of every writer: I want to make my story your story.
From the day in 2012 when I got fresh resolve to finish a book I first started in 1993 I believed my story was unique to me, but had a universality with which people would be able to identify.
That kick start came in February of 2012, Jean and I were sitting outside a coffee shop enjoying one of the first Arizona days of the New Year in the high 70’s. I was startled when I saw a polite e-mail on my phone asking for help. A young couple was contemplating how to deal with a unborn Down syndrome Child.
They had found me through a blog post I had written two years before on Down syndrome. Since Jean and I never missed a chance to talk about Down syndrome with prospective parents, especially parents who haven’t decided if they are going to keep the child, we jumped at the opportunity. While we deeply respect any and all choices available, we are, after all, advocates for “taking them home.”
During the 40-minute conversation, the couple immediately established they were considering going through the birth process and then offering the child for adoption. We came to enjoy and respect the couple. They were genuinely smart people, yet their fears about raising a Down syndrome child were visceral and even a bit primitive. They feared the challenge of raising a “vegetable.” That made both Jean and I laugh sympathetically. Jason is obviously no vegetable. We told the couple some of the funny stories I tell in the book.
Then, one day in June, 2012, I received this email from the father:
“Very long story short: after much discussion we decided nobody can raise our son better than we can. In 40 years I’ll write you and let you know how it all turned out.”
I was certain the father is correct, nobody can raise their baby as well as they can and will. But that experience with a couple seeking answers sent me back to the manuscript I had abandoned nine years earlier with new fervor. I suddenly saw with great clarity how our story might affect people in important ways.
The book is the story of Tim, Jason and Jean, but I believe that my friend saw what most readers will see. It is a book about all of us. It is about every parent, every struggle and every cataclysmic pain in our lives. It’s about how we deal with those seminal, sometimes tragic events and keep on moving forward, one step at a time.