Archive for January, 2010

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A Letter to Cole (On His First Birthday)

January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Coleman!!!

There are a lot of birthdays that fill up a lifetime, but few are as historic as your first. Coleman is going to have a birthday party on Sunday where he is going to receive all kinds of presents from all the people who love him. I’ll try to restrain myself, but you can probably guess how successful that venture will be.

However, in addition to the plastic “Fisher Pricey” thing he’ll get from me, I wanted to give him something else—something from the heart. I’ve decided to give him a letter; filled with my idea of how the talents and gifts that are already evident, and innately his will bless him as he grows to be a man—Just a father’s look into the future of his precious little boy on his first birthday.

Dear Coleman,

It’s hard for me to believe that it has already been a year. In some ways it seems like just yesterday I came home from the hospital at 6:00 am, all bleary eyed from being up 24 hours straight. I’ll never forget that morning and how no matter how hard I tried, the thought of getting back to you and your Mom kept me from getting any real sleep at all.

On the other hand, I don’t think I can remember life without you. It’s kind of like “The Three Musketeers.” I’m sure there was a time before they got together, but no one ever writes about it. You’ve completed this family in ways you’ll only understand when you yourself are a Dad.

At the hospital, you were the best thing since sliced bread—even the nurses thought so. They all went on and on about how handsome you were. Then before Mom and I could tell them thank you, they’d reply that they really meant it. One nurse even cornered me in the hall and couldn’t stop gushing about how you may have been the best look baby she had ever seen.

From the very start it was easy for people to tell that you were different from the crowd, and that’s only been reinforced to me over every one of the past 365 days. This letter is filled with some of the things I’ve seen in your little spirit that I hope you keep every day of your life.

Your birth was a miracle and every one knows it. When I showed your picture to my Physiatrist (Quadriplegic Doctor) she told me how happy she was that we were able to adopt. I told her that you weren’t adopted, and that you were my flesh and blood. She was flabbergasted (and freaked out a little bit) as she ran down the hallway telling everyone she saw that you were my genetic child—no one could believe it. So, I went down the hallway after her telling everyone that it was true. Miracles happen my son. Every breath you take is a testament to that. If you ever wonder if there’s a God, or if he hears and answers prayers, stop for a moment, get real quiet, listen to your heartbeat, and you’ll have your answer.

From the first day we brought you home you have had this happy attitude about you. You seem to have a smile for everyone. People love to be around you little Coleman J. Much of this comes from that happy attitude. When people meet you they always tell me what a happy little guy you are—keep that attitude it will bless you always.

Inside you there is a little spark of exaltation and intensity that can serve you well. I love to watch you take a toy in your hand, or get behind your big “standing toys” and shake the tar out of them. You do it with real passion. It’s evident when you bang your hand on the side of my bed or the way you become a whirling dervish in the bathtub. If you carry that same passion and exuberance into your life, you’ll always end up with success.

Man, can you pay attention. In the beginning it was the wall next to your changing table and the fans throughout the house, That turned into a fixation with cameras (which made it a little difficult to take your picture, but Mom worked it out) and now it’s everyone and everything. Never stop watching the world or the people in it. Never miss an opportunity to help another, or cost yourself the chance to do some good by losing your fascination with all that lives and breathes around you.

You have been blessed with a pace and patience that has already impacted me. When Mom and I talked to others about what it was going to be like to try to help you while being in a wheelchair, everyone said that I’d be fine—the only hard part would be my inability to help you because you would wriggle your body and arch your back right out of my arms. But that never happened. From the very beginning you’ve been calm and patient on my lap. It allowed me to feed you, burp you, and even carry you around on my lap. You just sit there. Take life at your pace. Never be in too much of a hurry. If you will, you will savor each year of your life the way I’ve enjoyed this first one with you.

You have a special love for everyone. You’ve always gone to others easily, never had a problem staying the night away from home, and have kisses for all. Give your love freely in the same way you share your little wave hello—plenty for everyone. If you will, you’ll be happier and the Savior will be proud. Remember the words Jesus spoke when he said, “As I have loved you, love one another.”

It didn’t take you long to figure out that you can always count on your Mom. She loves you so much and it’s easy to see you feel the same. I love the sweet relationship the two of you share. You can count on her for anything and everything. Talk to her throughout your life as much as you have “Jibber Jabbered” to her in this first year. You’ll meet a lot of special people in your adventures, but never one you’ll be able to count like your good sweet Mom.

From the first time I held you in my arms, I could feel the power of your spirit. More than once I’ve wondered how such a gigantic spirit fit into such a tiny body. But, more than anything, I’ve felt the closeness you have to your Heavenly Father. No matter how many birthdays pass by, never lose that special relationship with Him. He knows you and loves you and will do so today, tomorrow and forever. He’s never more than a prayer away.

Finally, always remember the three things I’ve told you every day of this first year

I Love You,
Your Heavenly Father Loves You,
And You’re a Good Boy.

Love,

Dad

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Dan The Man

January 12, 2010

My Uncle Danny

I spent this weekend with both my extended and immediate family rejoicing the life of My Uncle Danny.  Danny passed away on the 30th of December 2009.  He spent his life battling Downs Syndrome.  He was my Dad’s youngest brother, he lived to be 51 and he beat all the odds.

Daniel Jones Hall was born in September of 1958 to Florence and Elmer Hall.  When he was first born the Doctors told my grandparents that he was going to have to stay in the hospital longer than usual—eventually telling them that he shouldn’t ever accompany them home at all and that he should simply be institutionalized.

Having a boy of my own nearly a year ago, I can’t imagine the heartache and pain they must have felt.  But, my grandparents told the doctors that regardless of the advice, they were taking their boy home.

This is no easy task today, but then, it was unheard of.  The “retarded” weren’t supposed to be a part of society. It wasn’t easy, things like this never are, but they were dedicated to giving him every chance.

They taught him to eat by himself by putting him in the bathtub to eat because it was easier than continually cleaning him up.   They got him into school by pushing and pushing until the people at the district couldn’t stand to be pushed any more.

They taught him to sing.  I remember Danny singing.  Although his words weren’t always clear, or correct, his pitch was always perfect, and the result always beautiful. He loved to perform and was in many of the school plays.  He loved attending church and would bear his testimony of it’s truthfulness every chance he got.

All this happened with very little support.  My Grandpa and Grandma Hall had to figure it out on their own.  The only manual they had was scripture on Charity and the only instruction they received was the love they felt in their hearts,

When I think of my Uncle Danny, I remember him singing “God Bless America,” and “Take Me Home Country Roads.”  I remember his love of Ketchup and soda in his Maverick Mug.  I remember him with the cowboy hats he loved, the horses he’d play with and his records by Glen Campbell, John Denver and Donny and Marie.

I remember Danny’s guitar, and drum set that he made clear was “off limits” to little nephews like me.  I remember how he liked pretty girls, and how his impression of The Incredible Hulk” would send this little eight-year-old running for the hills.

I remember how he was at every family function.  He wasn’t simply hidden away.  It made for some funny moments, and interesting ones as well, but he was a part of the family and he was always present.  I remember the pure love of my pure grandparents.

I also remember Danny’s kind face.  I remember his big laugh—especially when his brothers were around.  They’d call him “Dan The Man” which always brought about his sheepish laugh and reply, “C’mon guys.”

I wonder about what Danny is doing today.  I know some of it.  I know that he’s in a heaven that has a loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ waiting there.  I know Danny is back with his parents and that he is whole and perfect there.

I wish I could have seen that reunion—Danny in the arms of his parents who loved him so.  It brings me to tears, just writing the words.

Part of what I realized this weekend, was that Dan was “The Man.”  I’m proud of the way he fought the good fight far longer than any doctor ever dreamed he could.  I’m proud to be his nephew, and I’m moved by the way my grandparents fought to give him a chance.

I have so much more to write, but just now I have tears in my eyes as I hear Danny singing “God Bless America” and think I’ll just leave it with this…

I love my Uncle Dan.

Jh-