Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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Before we was married, we rented a little townhouse in Dallas. My girls was with us. They from my first marriage. Nate come to us when my baby girl was barely a year old. He latched on and took us all like we was his, and I didn’t see all the love in that.
One winter, years ago, a stray cat lived under my rear deck. He was long and skinny and had a tattered gray coat, a whip tail, a block head, and a set of elephant nuts that hung low off his hind end. He survived by eating scraps of leftover food my mother threw to the birds. The sight of him disgusted me.
The North Tower of the World Trade Center, the Kona Ironman race in Hawaii, a four-door Plymouth Reliant
We say children are gifted when their intellectual ability is advanced beyond their age. A four-year-old girl who can pass all the items on an IQ test that an eight-year-old is expected to be able to do would obtain an IQ score in the 200 range. Children who are developmentally advanced are out of sync with their peers, and also out of sync with the expectations of teachers and parents, which leads to vulnerability. They need individualized education and counselors who understand how to work with these children.
The plastic prescription vial contains thirty doses. I press the cap down, twist it counterclockwise, and shake a cylindrical pill into my hand. It is an ugly gray, like dryer lint, like newly poured concrete, like a bullet. I know my daughter will notice this.
When he diagnosed my three-month-old, Fiona, with a chromosomal disorder, the redheaded, cherubic medical geneticist did not use the phrase “mentally retarded” — thank God, or the gods of rhetoric, or just the politically correct medical school the young doctor had attended.
When I was eight, I was so obsessed with Erich Segal’s novel Love Story that I memorized the first few paragraphs and recited them at every opportunity: “What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she loved Mozart. And Bach. And the Beatles. And me.”
If my daughter had been born to the Ashanti people in Ghana, she would have been abandoned at the riverbank.
Recently, a friend said to me, “You’re more human since the stroke than you were before.” This touched me profoundly. What a gift the stroke has given me, to finally learn that I don’t have to renounce my humanity in order to be spiritual — that I can be both witness and participant, both eternal spirit and aging body.