Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Everyone has a story

As I write this, I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop (which, incidentally, offers free wifi). I have put off writing a new blog post due to time constraints, and decided to make a valiant effort this morning at coming up with something to write about. But being a people-watcher, I become distracted as I observe the various patrons, in search of their particular caffeine-fueled potions, drift in and out of this fine establishment known for it's rather strong coffee.

A few of them I know. Many of them I recognize because they are frequent visitors at this time of day. And there are several I don't know at all. They all have lives they're living, and this particular moment is just a snippet of their day. Some are on their way to their offices or various places of employment. Others are students trying to ease into their day that will be filled with lectures, discussions and lots of reading. There are the occasional retirees who leisurely sit and talk. I recognize a local pastor who has brought his young daughter in for a hot chocolate, and another young professional-looking man and woman who appear to be meeting about business over coffee. At another table a couple of ladies are having a lively discussion about work and their children. A thinly-built, middle-aged, well dressed gentleman is sitting alone at a table near a sun-drenched window, pensively sipping from his beverage, seemingly in deep thought about something miles away. University faculty and local high school teachers filter in and out, warmly greeting their peers.

Each of these folks have a story. Each of them are living their lives, whether or not they are consciously aware of it. John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens while we're busy making other plans." It's a fun and curious thing to guess at who these people are, and I wonder about their real-life stories. They are all at different stages of their lives. Many, I am sure, are excited about their futures, careers, love interests and growing families. A few are enjoying their golden years, taking the time to catch up on old friendships and the things that a former busy work life made difficult. Some are undoubtedly carrying around the burdens of life, their smiles masking their true selves.

In my professional life, I meet with families and individuals that have real life stories that I get to hear. Many of them have stories that are incredibly heart-wrenching. I have talked with elderly moms and dads who have raised their child who have significant disabilities, and now are no longer able to care for them. I regularly receive calls from families who need help for a loved one that needs intensive assistance. I've talked to parents who have had to quit their jobs to be their child's primary caregiver. There are some individuals who have no one. And then there are those who have fallen through the cracks of our society, some of whom have been involved in tragic situations.

We are living in tough times. It's hard to ignore the dismal reality. A bad recession and a struggling economy have created pretty bleak outcomes for many. Our elected representatives and leaders in government are quick to remind us of this austerity, lecturing the masses on the scarcity of resources. As such, I get to be the bearer of bad news to those who often need help the most. It may be well over a decade before they will ever see the help they so desperately need. And all these folks really want is a chance for their loved ones to live their lives. Wouldn't it be great if individuals with disabilities had lives in which they were excited about their futures, careers, love interests, and whatever else that may be important to them?

Everyone has a story. Some are just a little more difficult to hear.


  1. I felt like I was sitting in the coffee shop with you-- people are so interesting aren't they?

    People's stories are so important, I think that is why I love blogging so much.

    Thanks for sharing a piece of yours and those that touch your life.


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About Me

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I work for a Community-Based, Not-for-Profit agency. I have worked in the disability field for over twenty-five years. I am the father of two boys, and have been married to my teenage sweet-heart for 23 years. I live and work in the same town where I was born & raised.
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