Lucinda is a five year old. Barclay is almost four. But Barclay is much older than Lucinda. In the human equivalent to Lucinda’s age, Barclay will be 28 in May.
Here’s a glimpse into Barclay’s playful spirit from when he was two (i.e., 14).
Last night, around the dinner table at the birthday party for the much older 36 year old and the 31 year old, there was lively conversation. But down on the floor, and sometimes under the table, there was pure joy – a little girl and the favorite dog she lives to visit.
Lucinda is a very active little girl. She never stops. She’s here; she’s there; she’s everywhere. She demands to be the center of attention. But she loses herself and gains it with Barclay whose great blessing is that he knows he’s not the center of the universe. He has to wait for others to play with him – and sometimes, on the best of days, the other is Lucinda, the favorite playmate who brings him pure joy for an hour or two.
The smiles on Barclay’s and Lucinda’s faces were as unmistakable as the light from the candles on the cake.
Sadly, moments after Lucinda’s family left our home last night, her cries and screams pierced the darkness on the sidewalk outside. Barclay was very sad, too. But he’s also the older and wiser of the two playmates. Cocking his head and looking up at me, he said, “Poor Lucinda. She’s still very young. She doesn’t understand yet that ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’ – Psalm 30, right Dad?”
Yesterday, on the anniversary of 9/11, Kay and I hiked on the Echo Trail near Ely, MN with 2 year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Barclay. Barclay knows nothing about airplanes, falling buildings, religion, economics, terror, or war. He makes friends with everyone. He rejoices in the present, leaping in the air, joyful for no particular reason.
On the hike we set him free from his leash and watch him romp along the trail, out and away from us – but not too far – and then galloping back like a race horse when called. Unfortunately, Kay’s slow motion video wouldn’t load for viewing.
Freed of his leash
he runs and leaps
his feathery coat
and flopping ears
fill the stale air
with the breeze
of joy unleashed.
Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, September 12, 2015
Since we couldn’t upload yesterday’s slo-mo video, here’s a different view of Barclay’s playful spirit.
My cousin Dennis sent this following the post about his older brother Alan who was paralyzed with Cerebral Palsy. See the earlier two posts on Views from the Edge for background information.
“For all the limitations Alan suffered, he was so loved by all of us and in his own way could express his love with ‘ah’s and laughter and joy that came through his facial expressions, vocal inflections and expressive eyes. He had his own means of communication which Gwen and I grew to understand. He could express all the human emotions. Alan could speak in his own special way. He called our Dad ‘fata’.
“I learned so much about life and what real love is from growing up with him. We never felt him a burden in any way. We all helped feed him, bathe him and change his diapers. It was a family project that we all did willingly.
“When he was put in an institution we missed his laughter and grieved for him deeply as a family. I don’t think any member of my family was loved and admired more than Alan.
“My father, mother and sister would be so proud of this blog. Their hearts would soar knowing Alan is part of the real world again and a living example of God’s love for us all. Alan did not live in vain. He was a courageous person who had to battle through his palsy to be just another human being like you and me.
“No father cared more for a son than my Dad. He was entirely devoted to him. And Alan looked up to him with adoration in his eyes. Alan could utter several words much like a one year old. He used his throat and lips to utter a very gutteral sound that few could understand but the immediate family. His ‘ah’s were his method of communicating his emotions and it varied depending on the circumstance. He understood everything you said to him and he would respond in his own way to let you know that he understood what you were saying. His eyes and facial expressions spoke a thousand words.”
Over lunch today my 89 year-old friend asked what had drawn my attention to my paralyzed first cousin Alan who never spoke a word due to Cerebral Palsy (see Views from the Edge’s post “Father and Son – Bob and Alan”).
Alan was completely helpless. His body was rigid. He had no control over his bodily functions or anything else. He was utterly dependent on his family. He could not feed himself. He couldn’t speak. Even so, his eyes communicated joy.
The joy of kinship and love came from inside himself in spite of all. I want the joy and gratitude that emanated from Alan’s eyes and smile whenever we came into each other’s presence. Control is a debilitating disability – an isolating illusion – among the “abled”.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all be this well trained in the things that bring joy to others and to ourselves? This is 10-month-old Barclay wanting to please the Alpha Dog and the Beta Dog. The commands were sit, down, roll over, off (which means “leave it”), come, and heel.
Leah Thomas was an attorney at the Legal Rights Center. Born and raised in southside Chicago, Leah’s older brother had been a member of the Black Panthers. She was raised with the cry for social justice in her bones, full of faith, smiles, laughter, and steadiness, a sturdy legal advocate and “mother” to the juvenile clients she defended in Hennepin County District Court.
She fainted one morning getting her coffee at Panera Bread. Days later she was gone. The funeral was held at her African-American church in Minneapolis. As Executive Director of the Legal Rights Center and Leah’s colleague and friend, I offered the following Tribute to Leah at the funeral.
Like sun breaking through a storm
Brightens the room
Breaks the ice
Fills it with peace.
Mama walks lightly
Amid the trials and the cares
Quick as a black panther
Steady as a turtle
She coos with the tenderness
of the turtle-dove
walks with the strength of a lion.
With steady hand
With sturdy faith
And clarity of mind
And soars her craft
Through clouds and storms
To lead us on and through.
Like sun breaking through a storm,
She brightens the room,
She wipes our tears
She fills us with her peace.
– Gordon C. Stewart, Legal Rights Center, Inc., Feb. 1, 2005.