Outraged!

As parents of a disabled adult child, Bill and I were confronted with our worst nightmare when our precious daughter, Shantel, called to tell us that last Saturday night, as she laid in her bed listening to a program on her phone, she thought she heard someone trying to get in her bedroom window. She immediately called 911 and reported what she thought was happening. The 911 operator told her they were sending help but did not keep her on the phone as they usually do.

Of course Shantel was scared, so she decided she would take her phone and go lock herself in her bathroom until the police arrived. However, as Shantel was leaving her bedroom and walking across the hall to the bathroom, she heard someone kick her front door in and before she could even get to the bathroom, some thug, said “Shantel its Damien”, and within minutes he had her by the throat and started choking her. She said she couldn’t breathe and thought she was going to die. She started trying to hit him and did everything she could to try to escape his grasp. She fought so hard that the intruder hit her in the face knocking her to the floor. Shantel began screaming so loud that her neighbors upstairs ( a brother and sister that share an apartment together, and who thankfully help her from time to time and check in on her to make sure she is alright) heard her screams and one of them started down the stairs to see what was happening while the other one called her cell phone which caused the intruder to grab her phone from her and run out of her apartment.

As the intruder was fleeing Shantel’s apartment, the brother and sister upstairs, and two other people saw him, and were able to identify him as a person that lived in the apartment complex in the past. They pulled him up on Facebook and showed his Facebook page to the police.

The police took Shantel to the police station and took pictures of her face and throat and Shantel said she was at the police station until 5:00 in the morning. However, Shantel did not call Bill and I until Sunday afternoon to tell us about all of this. I asked her why she didn’t call us Saturday night when she was at the police station and she said “I’m an adult now mom (23), and I didn’t want to worry you and Papa.” OMG, I told her “we are your parents and we want to know when you are in danger, or when something happens to you.”

I asked Shantel how she knew this intruder since he told her his name and she said he did live across the courtyard from her and he would say hi to her if she was walking to or from the laundry room, office, or mail box. She said he never came in her home and she really never had any conversation other than one day he was sitting on his patio and saw her as she passed by and said “hi, my name is Damien.” Then after that if he was out on his patio and she was walking by he would say Hi…

This whole thing of course has traumatized Shantel, and both Bill and I are just heart-sick about all of this.

I asked Shantel if she was scared to live there now and she said “a little, but I know I have to get past that because this is what I can afford, and my neighbors above do help me, and it is close to my best friend Jaz, and even if I moved mom, the same thing could happen…”

Of course as her parents, both Bill and I are OUTRAGED about all of this. It takes a special kind of scum of the earth to hurt a disabled blind person. I have to tell you as her mother, I would love to know who did this to my precious Shantel and if I ever came face to face to him… God forgive me, but I would do what ever I could to make sure that scum of the earth NEVER had an opportunity to do this again to anyone.

I am the mother of a disabled adult child, and I voted, and because of that, I have every right to voice my opinion, and my opinion is if you make fun of a disabled person, bully a disabled person, attack a disabled person, or support anyone that does… YOU are deplorable, and YOU are the scum of the earth, because then YOU helped set the stage for this to happen to my disabled daughter,  and if this post offends you, tough shit!!!

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

Kindness

As most of you know our daughter, Shantel, lost both eyes to cancer when she was two years old. If you follow my blog you also know how hard she has worked to become a strong, independent, contributing member of society. She is entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits (which isn’t even enough to pay the rent and utility bill for her small one bedroom apartment), and she receives a small ($77.00) monthly food allotment which she can only use for what she can eat. She cannot buy personal care items, cleaning items etc. Only what she can consume… I don’t know how they expect anyone to live on that… And for those that say “get a job” well, again if you read and/or follow my blog, you also know how hard Shantel works at trying to “get a job”. She has two college degrees, and a licence to sell health, life, and medical insurance in the state of Arizona, and still she can’t get a full-time job even answering phones in a Call Center… But, Shantel is determined that she is not going to live on Social Security benefits for the rest of her life. She is tenacious, and she never gives up. She recently was offered a sessional position in a Call Center working through the end of the year, helping people choose the Medicare plan that is right for them… She gave up her Social Security benefits and food allotment card when she accepted this temporary position hoping it will turn into a full-time job, but if not, at least it will give her more work experience for her resume…

Bill and I could not be more PROUD of how hard Shantel works to be independent, and it just absolutely breaks my heart when I hear how sometimes people that she is forced to depend on to get her to and from work, to and from the grocery store etc. can sometimes be so unkind.

Shantel uses Dial-a-Ride when she can, meaning if she has the time to schedule Dial-a-Ride in advance… But, sometimes she is forced to use other transportation services like cabs, which are very expensive, so she recently started using Uber which only charges her $11.00 to take her to work and $11.00 to take her home from work as opposed to paying $28.00 for the same distance using a cab. And the $11.00 charge for Uber includes the tip!

Shantel told me Uber offers two types of services. Regular Uber and Uber assist. Uber assist drivers are trained to help people with disabilities and are required to offer to walk a blind person to their door. The only drawback to using Uber assist is that like Dial-a-ride, there is a bit of a wait time if you can’t schedule the service well in advance… Regular Uber drivers are not “required” to walk customers to the door. However, Shantel told me that every time she has used the regular Uber service, the driver has always offered to walk her to her door which she very much appreciates. One of the regular Uber drivers even told her that if she can’t get Uber assist in a timely manner not to worry about it because most regular Uber drivers will get out and assist a blind or disabled person to their door. He went on to say “if they don’t then they have to be a complete moron…”

Why am I sharing all this with you, you might ask? Well last week, Shantel was called into work early so she had no choice but to call the regular Uber service to take her to work. When she got off work that day, she needed to stop at the grocery store to get her food for the following week. She called the regular Uber service to take her from work to the grocery store. That driver walked her into customer services where she asked for someone to help her select her groceries. Then, after she purchased her groceries, she called for Uber assist but was told she would have a long wait time. Since she had some cold and frozen food in her bags she decided to call the regular Uber service. That driver, a woman, picked her up at the grocery store, drove her to her apartment complex and told her the ride was over and she needed to get her groceries and leave the car. Shantel asked the driver if she would help her to her door, which is approx 75 yards from the parking lot (not a real long way, but a long way for a blind girl carrying four bags of groceries, her purse, lunch bag, and trying to use her long cane…). The driver told Shantel it wasn’t her job to help her to her door and that if she wanted that kind of service she should have called Uber assist!

Now, I understand that that Uber driver wasn’t “required” to help Shantel…or any other disabled person… But for the love of God, what happened to kindness, understanding, empathy, and compassion for our fellow human beings…?

Both Bill and I have spent most of our lives doing things that “were not our jobs”, or were not our responsibility etc., but we always try to step up and do the right thing when we see someone in need.

I can’t even begin to explain how it made me feel when Shantel told me how hard it was for her to make her way to her apartment carrying four bags of groceries which made it impossible for her to use her cane so she had to try to follow the walkway with her foot until she got to her door. Then she had to put all the groceries down so she could find her key in her purse and open the door. Then she had to go back outside and try to make sure she found all her groceries off the door step because some food rolled out of the grocery bags… It broke my heart and still brings tears to my eyes as I write this just thinking about what all Shantel has to go through just to get through her day doing what so many of us take for granted.

I started writing this blog years ago, mainly for Shantel, as a way to document our lives for her so she can read back on our lives when I’m gone. Because of course, being blind, photo albums would be of no use to Shantel.. But sometimes, like today, I share this story as a way to bring awareness to others of the difficulties people with disabilities face each and everyday, and to perhaps encourage you, if you don’t already, to step up and do the right thing next time you see someone in need, even if it is not your responsibility. It costs nothing to practice kindness!

Stay Tuned!

Our HERO

This is a picture of our beautiful daughter, Shantel. For those of you that may not know, Shantel had cancer in both eyes and had to have both eyes removed when she was two years old, leaving her blind for life. Bill and I spent our lives helping Shantel accept her blindness, and learn to live blind in a sighted world. The beautiful smile you see on her face has never faded throughout all the years of challenges she faced and overcame. I never saw Shantel spend one minute complaining, or feeling sorry for herself, and she never wanted anyone else to feel sorry for her either.

shantel

Bill and I fought long and hard to ensure Shantel had everything she needed to get through her school years from Kindergarten through earning two degrees in College. We had to attend endless Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings, to get everyone on board with what would be expected of Shantel in the classroom, as well as what would be expected of the teacher, and the support team hired to braille Shantel’s books, worksheets, test papers, etc. All this was done to ensure Shantel’s rights were upheld in the classroom so she had a fair and level playing field to compete with her peers. I can tell you nothing we fought for, and won, to support her needs came easy, but neither Shantel, or Bill and I would ever give up.

Now, fast forward… Shantel is 23 years old, lives in her own apartment, and all Shantel wants is to obtain gainful and meaningful employment. She does receive Social Security Disability benefits which isn’t even enough to pay the rent on the one bedroom apartment she has, and she receives a very small food allotment card. Shantel could sit home and just draw her Social Security and food card benefits, but she wants to work. She spends her entire day applying for jobs, and going on interviews, only to be rejected over and over again. Keep in mind, she has not one, but two degrees, and can’t even get hired to work in a call center. All she needs to do a job working with computers is a voice over program installed that will read the information on the screen to her. Then she can do the very same job that any sighted person can do…

Finally, after months and months of searching, Shantel signed on with a temp staffing agency. The temp agency was able to get her a seasonal job in a call center not far from where she lives. Both the temp agency and the call center company know she is blind and agreed they could accommodate her needs with the voice over software. She is earning $14.00 an hour even as she goes through a six-week training class. Shantel was overjoyed to say the least. Of course she will need to give up her Social Security and food allotment benefits while she is working but she can have it reinstated if she gets laid off. She doesn’t even mind the fact that the training classes are from 4:00 p.m. till midnight which means she has to pay for a cab to take her home every night because Dail-a-Ride stops running at 10:00 p.m. I can tell you I pray her home every night because I’m so worried about her being out all alone at that time of night. Bill and I live over an hour and a half from Shantel or I would go pick her up and take her home myself.

When Shantel’s training class started, the very first thing she was told was that they did not have the voice over software installed on the computer she needs to use for training. They said it has been ordered but has not arrived yet. This is NOT good at all. Shantel cannot learn, and keep up with the class if she doesn’t have that software on her computer. The instructor told her to “just sit and listen and do the best she can to keep up… ” That is exactly the type of thing Bill and I had to fight the school system about when Shantel was still in school…. Promises made that were not kept and Shantel was the one that paid the price. As her mother, it just sends me over the top because it’s just not right!

I talked to Shantel yesterday, and she told me “mom, you’re not going to believe what happened last night at work.” I asked what happened, and she told me that the voice over software has arrived but now the ITD department said they are not going to install it twice which means they will not install it on the training class computer, only the production floor computer she will use once she completes her training.” Then she went on to say the training instructor said Shantel needs to repeat the six-week training class because if she goes out on the training floor at this point she will not be able to handle the call volume because she has not had a computer to practice on… Are you kidding me!! How is another six-week training class going to benefit Shantel if ITD won’t put the voice over software on the training class computer? I told Shantel to get a meeting with the training instructor and her supervisor/manager and the production floor supervisor/manager and ask if she can have someone on the production floor give her one-on-one training on the computer she will be using that has the voice over installed in it… I don’t know why, after all these years, it still amazes me that people that are managing companies, and people, can be so lacking in common sense!!

I asked Shantel if she thinks all she is going through to have this temporary job is worth it? Shantel said “mom, 70% of blind people never get a job, I’m going to be in the 30% of the blind people that do get a job. I don’t want to live on Social Security and food allotments, I want to be financially independent, and this job at least is paying me $14.00 an hour, and I’m hoping it just might work into a full-time position. But if not, at least I’m gaining more work experience…” My heart bursts with pride for her.

Papa and I love you Shantel, we are so VERY proud of you. You face more challenges in one day than many people face in a lifetime, and you never give up! YOU are our HERO!!!

Stay Tuned!

CONGRATULATIONS!

This morning started out with rain and storm clouds looming on the horizon here at Quail Creek State Park.

P1040501

But as the day went on the sun came out and Bill and I received the BEST news! News we have been waiting for, and praying for years to hear…!

Finally, after graduating college with a degree in psychology and another in general studies, and after sending out many, many, resumes, and going on many, many job interviews… our daughter, Shantel, was offered a job as a Customer Service Representative at Optum. Optum is a Health Care Solutions Company that is part of Untied Health Care. They have one of their offices in Ahwatukee Arizona, not far from where Shantel lives. Optum provides Health Care Solutions to companies and members, and the company takes pride in making navigating the Health Care system easier.

Shantel was offered the position at Optum several weeks ago, but because she is totally blind, she needs a voiceover software that reads information on the computer to her to allow her to do her job just as any sighted person would. That said, the company, Optum, had to get approval to purchase the non-budgeted voiceover software. Once all the necessary approvals were obtained, the accommodations department at Optum had to work with their Information Technology department to make sure the voiceover software is compatible with the company software, and that it meets all the HIPPA privacy requirements. Shantel just received notification today that the software has been purchased and installed and they asked her to begin her two-week paid on-the-job training on November 2nd.  She will start at $11.00 an hour with pay increases and incentives along the way, and because Optum is part of Untied HealthCare, of course she will have an insurance/benefit package as well.

Bill and I are over the moon excited for Shantel. We have every confidence that Shantel will make Optum an excellent employee. When Shantel graduated college with her degrees, she made it her full-time job to find a job. The problem she kept running into was that she never had a job before. While she was in school she applied over and over at all the usual places teens find work but she was never hired. We knew if someone would just give her that first chance to prove herself she would be off and running in the workforce earning her own way in the world.

I can’t tell you how many prayers I’ve said asking for Shantel to not only get a job…but that she would be lead to the right job for her. A job where she would be accepted and respected and given the opportunity to earn her financial independence. I have very positive feelings about this job for Shantel, and both Bill and I are feeling blessed and so very, very, thankful that Shantel is being given this opportunity!

Good Job Shantel and CONGRATULATIONS.

P1040505

Papa and I love you so much and we are so very, very PROUD of you!

Stay Tuned!

 

She Got Them!

It took a lot of hard work, and a bit of extra time, but I am so happy to share that our daughter, Shantel, received her two Associate Degrees from South Mountain Community College today.

One is an Associate in Arts Degree, for Psychology, shown below…

P1030732

And the other is an Associate in General Studies, show below…

P1030731

Shantel, Papa and I are so very proud of you, and the hard work and effort you put forth to earn these two degrees. We know accomplishing this goal was the first step in following your dreams, and we hope you will go on to continue your education as you can, and that all your dreams come true… We love you to the moon and back and so much MORE!!!

Stay Tuned!

Way To Go Bro!

Some of you may have noticed I have not posted anything since January 15th. Big thank-you to everyone that inquired about my whereabouts… I wasn’t feeling well for a while, but I’m doing better now. Then I got some depressing news about two people I care about…. Bob, the man who comes to spend everyday with his Sister at the Care Center where my mother lives is in Intensive Care. This is Bob in the tan shirt pushing his sister in her wheelchair. Bob is 87 yrs old himself and has Parkinson’s…

Bob

Bob

Bob didn’t show up at the Care Center for a few days so the Care Center called the police to do a well check on him. Thank God they did because they found him on the floor unresponsive, and rushed him to the hospital. He lives alone, and has no other family other than his sister, Annie, at the Care Center. As of this post, we don’t know how he is or even if he is still alive thanks to HIPA laws. All I know is the Care Center said after a certain period of time passes with no contact for his sister, they may be able to get the hospital to release information about Bob. He is in my constant thoughts and prayers.

The same day I found out about Bob, I also found out that our friend, David, the man who lost one of his legs in a car accident and just recently underwent a very long and complicated surgery to repair internal injuries… has some kind of horrible infection (his roommate died from it) and David is in isolation in his room. This is David.

P1030652

No one other than staff (suited in gown, gloves, mask, and shoe booties) is allowed in David’s room, and of course, he can’t come out… I asked how he is doing and was told he is very depressed. I have his cell phone number and I called him but he didn’t answer. I left a message asking him to call me back but as of this post I haven’t heard from him. He is also in my constant thoughts and prayers…

Of course, with both Bob, and David, in bad shape, my mother is very upset with worry about them. We are trying to manage that and keep her from getting depressed…

With all that going on…. I was pleased, proud, and happy, to find out my Bro, Danny, was chosen as a collaborator for a book! Way to go Bro!!!

Here is the book.

100_13541

And his certificate of appreciation…

100_13531

And his name in print… See under collaborators, second name down, Dan Vezie. That’s my Bro…

100_13551

Danny works at Maricopa Unified School District. His main function is running the warehouses that supply the schools within Maricopa Unified School District, but he also went to pest control school and learned how to eliminate pests without harsh chemicals, and was instrumental in developing a pest control method, that is safe for the children, teachers, and environment, within the Maricopa Unified School District. That lead to him being selected as a collaborator for the Handbook On Pests Of Community Environments In The Desert Southwest United States. The book was published by the University Of Arizona!

I just could not be any prouder of you Danny. Love and hugs, Sis.

Stay tuned!

Just Another Wednesday

Wednesday’s are one of the day’s I always spend with my daughter, Shantel.

Up at 4:00 A.M. so I have enough time to cook the bacon,

P1030487

and seasoned chicken breasts Shantel always asks me to bring so she can just heat and eat them during the week when she’s ready.

P1030488

Shantel can cook many things for herself, but frying bacon and chicken is a bit dangerous for her to do alone, and I don’t mind at all making it for her.

Next, I pack up the usual supply of paper towels and bar hand soap we buy at Costco for her. Shantel says she can never have enough paper towels.

By 7:50 A.M. I’m on the road and heading to Shantel’s apartment with the goods…

When I arrive, Shantel is standing outside and ready to go… As she made her way to the car, I ran inside her apartment to put the food I cooked away.

P1030493

Then it’s off to the bank to talk to someone about Shantel’s bank card being comprised.

P1030491

She received a call Saturday afternoon from the fraud department of the bank letting her know there had been some suspicious charges to her card, from a Murphy Express in Cedar Park Texas. The fraud department asked her if she wanted to authorize the charges and Shantel told them no. So the bank said they would put a permanent block on that card and told her that she would need to go into her bank branch to obtain a new card… Today the bank dismissed the unauthorized charges and the overdraft charge and issued Shantel a new card…

With the banking issue taken care of we were off and running to Walmart for as Shantel says …”much-needed hair products.” OMG, hair products are the never-ending story with that girl.

After too much time at Walmart (it’s now 10:30 A.M.) the next stop on our agenda was Fry’s Food Store to purchase her weekly groceries… Then, a mad dash back to Shantel’s apartment to put the groceries away so we can get her to school on time for her 11:00 class.

But…. not too fast… because Shantel still wanted to stop at McDonald’s for two Mc Doubles, medium fries, and a large Carmel Frappe that she can take with her to class!!!  She said it’s just enough to hold her over until she gets home and enjoys the chicken I cooked for her…

P1030494

It was a fast paced morning, and I told Shantel sometimes I can’t believe that I, a long time queen of planning…., ended up dashing around town with my daughter who is making every effort to turn me into a “last-minute Nelly…” But, like I said…, it was “just another Wednesday…” 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned

An Embarrassment

In my last post I talked about a power outage in our neighborhood this past week. About a half hour after the power went out I heard a knock on my front door. It was my next door neighbor, Kathy, wanting to know if the power was out at my house. I told her it was and told her I called the power company and found out the estimated time for restoring our power was going to be about two hours. She thanked me and said she just wanted to be sure it wasn’t just something wrong at her house.

I met Kathy a few days after Bill, Shantel, and I moved into our home which has been almost 2 1/2 years ago. At that time Kathy told me she has lived in her home since it was new, and that her husband passed away two years before we moved here. She said she takes care of her grandson, Alex, and explained to me that Alex has Autism. Kathy stands out in front of her house everyday with Alex waiting for the special needs bus to pick him up to take him to school. Alex always has a headset on and will  pace back and forth constantly while waiting for the bus to arrive. At the end of the school day, Kathy will be waiting out front of her house again for Alex to arrive home. Since our initial introductions when we first moved here, Kathy will say hello when she sees me but other than that she pretty much keeps to herself. So I was surprised that she came over to ask me about the power outage.

While I was telling Kathy what the power company told me about the power outage and estimated time for restoring service, I noticed Kathy looking at the tile on our living room floor. She said she loved that tile and that she had looked in our house as it was being remodeled prior to us buying our home and the first thing she noticed was our beautiful tile. I invited Kathy in and said I would show her the house if she liked. She was hesitant at first but did come in and walked to the kitchen and family room. She told me she loved how I have decorated our home and was very impressed with our new sofa and rocking chair in the family room. I asked Kathy if she would like to sit down, but she said she couldn’t stay. She looked around and asked me where Shantel was and said she hadn’t seen the dial-a-ride cab bringing her home anymore. I explained that Shantel had moved out in May and was now in her own apartment. Kathy wanted to know if Shantel had roommates and I told her no, she lives alone. I told her I talk to Shantel everyday and I go over once or twice a week to help her get groceries or run errands. Then Kathy asked me if Shantel was completely blind. I told her Shantel lost both her eyes to cancer just before she was two. Kathy asked me if Shantel was adopted and I told her she was and that her biological mother is my oldest daughter.

As I was talking to Kathy I noticed she was beginning to get a little emotional. Then Kathy just opened up and started telling me all about her grandson, Alex. She said her only daughter gave birth to Alex, but Kathy has been caring for Alex since he was seven weeks old. Kathy said at first her daughter would come and see Alex from time to time, but never really spent any real quality time with him at all. Kathy said she thought it was just a temporary phase her daughter was going through and that she would eventually settle down and want to raise her son.

As time passed Kathy said she began to notice Alex was not developing normally. He wasn’t doing the “normal” things other children his age were doing. His speech was very slow in developing and he had a lot of difficulty staying focused on anything even for short periods of time. Kathy asked her daughter to take him to a doctor to be evaluated but her daughter told Kathy she didn’t have time and told Kathy to find someone to look at Alex. Kathy took Alex to several doctors and all the doctors said the same thing. Alex has Autism and he is going to need constant supervision for the rest of his life. Kathy told me when she called her daughter to tell her what the doctors said, her daughter said “well, you can just keep him because he is an embarrassment to me and I don’t want any more to do with him.” Kathy said she didn’t say anything to her daughter, but she was thinking by her daughter saying that about her own son, her daughter is an embarrassment to her…! I told Kathy she is a much better woman than I, because keeping my thoughts to myself in a situation like that has never been my strong point!

By now Kathy was in tears and told me she worries constantly what will happen to Alex when she is  no longer able to take care of him. I was very surprised when Kathy told me she is seventy-four years old (she certainly doesn’t look her age to me) and that she doesn’t have any other family members around to help her with Alex. I asked her how old Alex was and she told me he is just sixteen. Kathy asked me if I worry constantly about Shantel and I told her I do, but I know Shantel can care for herself, and I do have family and friends that would help her if she needed help and Bill and I were not around.

I wanted to talk to Kathy about looking into a group home that Alex could live in once he was out of school but I could see that particular day was not the right time to even mention that. I know of another boy with Autism and his parents (they were a little older as well ) made that arrangement for him so he could adjust to the home while they were still able to check in on him to be sure he was being cared for properly.  At last report, that boy was doing well and enjoying his life.

My heart aches for Kathy, and all mothers who love and care for all the precious, precious, children with special needs. No one but another mother of a child with special needs can truly understand the pure joy these children bring into our lives, or the piercing heartaches sometimes endured. These special mothers are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Stay Tuned!

The Miracle Worker

When I was a child, I loved watching The Patty Duke Show. So naturally I was thrilled when I found out she played the part of Helen Keller in the 1962 American Biographical Film, The Miracle Worker. A stirring dramatization of the story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. I loved that film and saw it several times over the years…

I could never have imagined back then, how that film, The Miracle Worker, would play out in a very similar fashion later in my own life. How could I have known that one day I would become the mother of a child, our daughter, Shantel, who would lose both her eyes to cancer, leaving her totally blind for life? Thankfully Shantel is not deaf, but she did lose a significant amount of her hearing, in both ears, due to the chemo she received for the treatment of the cancer.

I remember like it was yesterday, the soul piercing fear I felt, when my husband, Bill, and I were told the only way to save our then two-year old daughter, Shantel’s, life was to remove both her eyes. What do you do with that? How do you cope? How do you find the strength to help your child find her way through life in total darkness?

Lucky for us, we were immediately connected with The Foundation For Blind Children (FBC) in North Phoenix. Shantel was enrolled into their toddler program at the age of 2 1/2. The FBC not only taught Shantel the life skills she would need to keep herself safe, they also taught Bill and I when to push her and how to know when we needed to redirect her efforts. They told us if we were going to make Shantel into a porcelain doll, she would eventually break, and would never learn how to properly function in her world. They told us over and over again to insist she learn and practice the skills they would teach her. Things as simple as eating soup from a spoon without tipping the spoon and spilling the soup… That sounds so simple but it isn’t when your 2 1/2, you can’t see, your hungry and frustrated, and the people you love and trust are insisting you “do it again, and again, and again…. I felt so sorry for her and it would have been so very easy to just scoop her up into my lap and feed her… but I knew if I did that I was sentencing her to a life of helplessness…

Another life skill Shantel had to learn was how to use a long cane so she can move about safely and freely in her environment. Before learning the long cane skills, Shantel had to learn to move about inside our home by keeping her hands out in front of her face so if she ran into something her hands would let her know. I cannot tell you how many times I had to watch her run into counters, and walls, because she would forget to put her hands out. I could have stopped her prior to her banging her head, but the FBC told us she will not learn how to do things right unless she understands what happens if she doesn’t…

Shantel was the youngest child ever, at the time, in the FBC program to learn to use a long cane. We were told that most children under 4 yrs old do not have the muscle control and strength to control the cane in such a way that will keep them safe… Shantel has always been tall for her age and she has always been very strong. This is a picture of her walking with two of her friends in her class at the FBC. The little girl in the front and the one in the middle had very low vision at the time and both lost all their vision a few years later. Shantel, in the back of the line, of course was totally blind but commanded control of her long cane. We were and still are so very proud of her.

P1020186

Shantel is grown now, 21 yrs old, and living independently alone in her very first apartment. She takes care of her apartment, fixes her own meals, and does her own laundry… Had we not forced her to learn and practice all those skills over the years, living on her own today would not have been possible…

Yesterday, my husband, Bill and I went to a live play of The Miracle Worker.

P1030301

The performance was held at the Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert Az.

P1030292

The Hale Centre Theatre is a lovely, small, intimate, theatre that is practically in our own backyard.

P1030294

We had front row seats and could have reached out and touched the actors and stage props if we wanted… our seats were just behind the brown table with the white bowl sitting on it. How cool is that?

P1030295

But, like I said… any seat in the theatre was good

P1030296

Seeing the live performance of The Miracle Worker, played out in real-time, right before our eyes, in such an intimate and close setting, was to say the least, a very emotional experience for both Bill and I. We both laughed and we both cried… and when it was over, we both agreed the story of Helen Keller, and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, is a story of victory over unbelievable odds – accomplished through conviction, perseverance, and love… Much like our own story…

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

 

Shredding The Past

After our daughter, Shantel, moved into her new apartment, I made a list of projects  I wanted to tackle. Things like shred all her High School individual education plans (IEP) papers, all emails regarding issues pertaining to follow-up issues when the IEP plans were not followed by the school and district, all court documents from when we had to take the school district to court to force them to adhere to the IEP as written, and all her college paperwork related to her special needs and accommodations… Oh what memories are held within those documents.

In addition, I am on a quest to shred all unnecessary papers related to my mother’s insurance and/or banking business as well as any and all unnecessary papers my husband, Bill and I have accumulated over the years. I have been told, by various people, that I am the “document queen.” and that served me well when I was fighting the school and district for Shantel’s rights, or taking care of my mother’s personal business etc. but now, I know I can free myself from the burden of managing all that paperwork. And it is very freeing to clear out all that paper. I have made a good size dent in the shredding project, but still have a lot of shredding yet to do… this could take weeks, and has become almost a full-time job.

I say almost a full-time job because the shredding project is just one of many projects on my “to do list.” In addition to shredding our past, I am also in the process of cleaning out closets and getting rid of anything and everything we don’t use and giving it all to Goodwill. I have the first Goodwill pick-up scheduled for tomorrow morning..

I also decided we no longer need the older refrigerator in the garage. We only used it to store drinks, and now that Shantel moved out, we don’t need to store all her soda’s, vitamin water, bottled teas etc. so I moved the beer and wine into our kitchen refrigerator, cleaned out the garage refrigerator, and scheduled it to be picked up by SRP’s recycling team on June 7th.

One reason it is taking me so long to complete my “to do project list”, is because I keep getting interrupted with things like Shantel calling to ask me to take her to get her groceries, and to spend the day with her at Social Security and DES offices. I can not believe how long it takes to get anything done at these government offices. Shantel had to go into the DES office to get finger printed before she could begin receiving services she has been approved to receive. We were told we needed to arrive at the office early as lines begin forming at daylight… I picked Shantel up at 5:30 A.M. and we arrived at the DES office by 6:00 A.M. The office doesn’t open until eight, but there were already 75 people in line ahead of us at 6:00.. are they kidding me? There was nowhere to sit down so we just had to stand in line outside the building in the parking lot. To make the time spent even more fun than I could have ever imagined… two LARGE pit bull dogs were running up and down the building terrorizing all of us. There was nowhere to go to get away from them and no one was going to step out of line for fear of losing your place…I mean these dogs were growling at us and just kept patrolling the line back and forth. One black man got so scared he started to run and the dogs started chasing him. OMG!!!  I was so scared they were going to come after Shantel and I, because they kept coming by and pushing up against Shantel’s cane. I kept trying to get between the dogs and Shantel but every time Shantel stepped behind me the dogs followed her..

Finally, the DES office opened and we were ushered inside to take a number, have a seat, and wait, wait, wait… After several hours, Shantel’s number was called, she was finger printed and we were on our way.. However, later that day, Shantel called me to say one of her Facebook friends said she and her daughter were at that same DES office in the afternoon and both she and her daughter were bitten by the pit bull dogs in the parking lot. An ambulance had to be called and both the mother and her child we taken to the hospital. Also animal control, which was contacted early that morning, eventually came and apprehended the dogs. All I can say is I was glad to get the hell out of there and hope I never have to go back..

The next day, I’m back to working on my projects when Shantel calls me to tell me her friend, Jaz, was at her apartment helping Shantel do her laundry at the apartment laundry room. As they were walking back to Shantel’s apartment, Jaz saw some kittens on Shantel’s patio. Jaz wanted to pet them but when she got close to them, they started hissing and swiping their claws at her. Jaz said the kittens were hanging around Shantel’s storage room door so she went over there and opened the door and found the mother and more kittens hiding behind the water heater. The mother cat started hissing and started towards Jaz so she slammed the door and started back into Shantel’s apartment. However, when she opened Shantel’s sliding patio door one of the kittens ran in and hid under the sofa. Jaz tried to get it out but it was hissing and making all kinds of noises at her. She finally was able to use Shantel’s cane and get it out from under the sofa and put a laundry basket over it but even with the laundry basket over it the kitten was running all around the room sliding the laundry basket with it… Jaz directed the kitten and basket towards the door and finally pushed the kitten out and shut the door… OMG!!! What next? Shantel called the Humane Society but was told they would not come out and trap the cats. They said Shantel would need to trap them and bring them into the Humane Society .I told Shantel she needs to call the office and ask if maintenance can come by with a net or something to get the cat/kittens out of her storage room because Shantel would have no way of knowing if one was by her door and would run into her apartment anytime she opened her door…

After all that excitement, as if I needed more… I went to visit my mother. I stopped by McDonald’s to get her a caramel frappe, but their frappe machine was broken so I ordered a chocolate milk shake thinking it would be a close second… NOT so much… Mom was excited to see me and very happy to see I brought her what she thought was a McDonald’s frappe. However, when she found out it was a milk shake she said she wasn’t hungry and didn’t want it…by this time I was too tired to care. I just thought to myself “if you knew what I’ve been through with pit bull dogs, and furrow cats terrorizing my daughter and I, you would just take the milk shake, smile and say thank-you, even if you threw it out after I left… Oh well, I tried… 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Previous Older Entries

Wheeling It

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random musings...life in NYC...travel...photography...cycling

Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

%d bloggers like this: