Todd here. My mother passed away yesterday.
With all that has happened this year, I feel numb. I feel it is important to let you know how special she was to me. When I started attending first grade, the teachers noticed something different about me. Reading was all but impossible for me, simple math as well. They said I would grow out of it and that I was just a late bloomer. I wasn’t because my progress was the same. Students who were having the same problems were sent off to a psychologist to find out why they “didn’t want to learn.” My mother knew in her heart that there was another route to take, and started researching an alternative school of thought about learning disabilities.
I was a mess.
The concept was brand new, and because of her diligence she found a woman who tutored kids like me. Dyslexia was a new word for everyone and the information was limited, but my Mom threw everything she had into it with learning programs. She would get up extremely early to drive me three times a week before school to the tutor who lived three towns away.
My Mom was a tight lipped New Englander, but I will never forget how she stormed into my elementary schools principal’s office, asking why in “HELL!” my teachers were having me stand up in front of the class and read out loud when they knew I couldn’t. (Oh, you should know that my Mom never swore in her life.) She did this all on a teacher’s salary. She researched diets that would help me and worked with me with dozens of other programs to help me learn. Erin reminds me of my Mom with her research and tenacity- she did and still does research and explores new options for our twin boys who are on the Autism Spectrum- and she had to do this when Autism wasn’t really on the radar yet.
My Mom’s sacrifices were huge and went on for years. She encouraged me to work with my hands and mind, which is why I have become a sort of a MacGyver. She got me into programs during the summer; like working at the Audubon Sanctuary to rehab animals, and art classes which she knew I enjoyed. Because she was such a talented artist, she encouraged my creativity. I owe her my love for the outdoors, because she and my Father took us on two cross-country trips, where we stayed in National Parks and explored. (My Mom also fed a family of five with one little Coleman cooler and set up a huge, heavy canvas tent each time we stopped. The woman makes pioneers who crossed the plains look lazy.) My Mom treated everyone with respect. Everyone. She did this- all of this because she believed in me and never gave up on me.
She was the parent I have always strived to be.