Elijah brings mirth and laughter

Before Elijah goes to bed, he likes to explore things. Sometimes he explores his hands. Sometimes he explores his feet. Sometimes he explores Barclay’s tail. Sometimes he explores Grandpa’s face.

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Elijah explores Grandpa’s face

Elijah is curious. Everything in life is new, even if it’s old to me. Maybe especially when it’s old to me. Things like an old gnarly face.

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Elijah is like a visitor in a children’s zoo or museum that allows him to touch whatever interests him. An old chin. A nose. A wrinkled neck. A light spot where the dermatologist has removed something suspicious. A mouth from which he brings words and laughter.

Elijah brings his own laughter. Especially when he doesn’t mean to. Joy is like that. “And a little child shall lead them.”

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  • Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, December 14, 2017.

 

 

 

He had his own means of communication

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.”

Soccer Puppy

After posting a heavy piece on the President’s speech on Syria, 15-week-old Barclay took me aside and suggested I lighten up. “Dad, you have to stop being so serious. Besides, Dad,” he said, “I like President Obama. I thought you did, too. You need to chill out. You need to watch Mom’s video from last night and show it to the world. You humans are just too mean. All this Syria stuff is just a big soccer game.”

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll put your video up on the blog to bring some laughter and lighten up the superior species. Good dog!”

Ode to Mama

Leah Thomas and family

Leah Thomas and family

Leah Thomas was known as “Mama” by her clients. She was an attorney at the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis when she “fainted” at a coffee shop on her way to work. This poem was read at her funeral. We called her Mama because she treated the “juvenile offenders” she represented as though they were her own children. Leah’s older brother had been a member of the Black Panthers in Chicago.

ODE TO LEAH THOMAS

Like light
Like joy
Like sun breaking through a storm
Her laughter
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 the tenderness of
the turtle dove
walks with the strength of a lion.

With steady hand
With sturdy faith
And clarity of mind
She laughs
And soars her craft
Through clouds and storms
To lead us on and through.

Like light,
Like joy,
Like sun breaking through a storm,
She laughs,
She brightens the room,
She wipes our tears
She fills us with her peace.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Executive Director, Legal Rights Center, Feb. 1, 2005.

In remembrance of Leah Thomas

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 light

Like joy

Like sun breaking through a storm

Her laughter

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

She laughs

And soars her craft

Through clouds and storms

To lead us on and through.

Like light,

Like joy,

Like sun breaking through a storm,

She laughs,

She brightens the room,

She wipes our tears

She fills us with her peace.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Legal Rights Center, Inc., Feb. 1, 2005.