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Emails to my Therapist

Lena’s Thanksgiving story

What are the holidays like when you're celebrating with someone who is severely disabled?   How do you shop for someone who can use very little?

My friend, Lena Rivkin, a visual artist and graphologist in LA, knows a lot about this situation.  "When you have a sibling who cannot speak, make direct eye contact or give a hug, a Gap Gift Certificate doesn’t quite manage to bridge the gap."

In her essay in "Autism United," Lena writes about what she has learned and what she wants others to know:  that simple gestures are huge.

"Holidays nowadays are more likely to resemble high stakes poker games or full impact sporting events or high spending reality shows than simple exchanges of love and friendship."  And people don't usually know how to give to someone severely limited.   And so most of us do nothing.

"As Edmund Burke said, 'Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.'”

"For Phillip," Lena writes, "the best presents are silent, handmade gestures from the heart. The best gift I can give my beloved brother is myself; I design the needlepoints he stitches…."

Small attentions to someone like Phillip are also a gift to those who love him — and probably satisfying for the giver as well. 

I hope you're having a happy Thanksgiving.

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Categories: enhancing creativity

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  • November 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm Reply

    Greetings Peggy, Nice story and oh, so very true! My great nephew, Joshua, 2+ has functioning Autism, cannot eat, hardly sleeps, brain goes non-stop, and so on. His mom is legally blind and his father has been out of work over two years. They have a 7 year old, Chandler, who is a Genius. Go figure? (You can see their pics on Photo page of my website if you like.) When I first met him, I was told don't expect him to come to you for he goes to no one but his parents. When bent down and looked him in the eye and said, "Well, hello Joshua!" and smiled with open arms to much everyone's surprise, shock, he ran into my arms and gave me a big hug. He didn't let go of my hand and tried to help me walk and was kind to me like I need his help. It was touching. Loving child. The human spirit and the human heart know no boundries or the meaning of the word disability.
    Tis true that people don't know what to do and doing nothing which doesn't help anyone at all. I have found it's better to say very little but do as big as you can–when you can–if you can. Remember the old cliche, "Actions speak slouder than words," still applies to all who are suffering.
    "God Bless Us Every One!"
    Love and happy thanksgiving to you & yours & all your readers too ~ Eileen 

    • November 28, 2011 at 10:42 am Reply

      Great moments with Joshua, Eileen. I love that he was trying to help you.

  • Fabienne Worth
    November 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm Reply

    Hi Peggy: I love your blog especially since I am in the temporary position of the handicapped person because of my hip operation. I am happy, and mostly pain free, but still lying on my bed, and very dependent. I am so grateful to Corinne, my nurse and cook in chief, but also to all the family and friends who visit, call, share of themselves. One son took me to the hospital at 4:30 am, an estranged brother appeared in a dream, and 3 hours later called from France, two friends brought me food, another taught me how to knit woolen socks, others just come to chat, or to inquire about me on the phone. Nobody plays bridge unfortunately, but  I am learning that the human heart is quite a trump card if I just take the trouble to notice it's there, and for free! I am so grateful.

    • November 28, 2011 at 10:40 am Reply

      I’m happy for the support you’re getting, Fabienne, and sorry you’ve had to go through all this health difficulty. I hope you’re back on your feet as soon as you’re ready. Nice about your brother’s reappearance.

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