It's almost Mother's Day. To salute all you beautiful, loving, hardworking mothers out there, I offer a beautiful story.
The Atlantic published Autism's First Child, a brilliant piece of journalism that stirred my heart, wet my eyes and made me think of all my mothers-in-arms, particularly those who live with special needs.
It tells the story of Donald Triplett from Forest Mississipi, the first person ever diagnosed with autism. He will be 78 this year. He lives independently, drives his own car, plays golf, and travels the world. And as writers John Donovan and Caren Zucker put it:
"… he has a community that has always accepted him, since long before people in town had heard the word autism. Tranquility, familiarity, stability, and security—if we were talking about healing, these would create an ideal environment. Forest provided all of them for Donald, who didn’t need to heal. He needed only to grow, and that he did, spectacularly."
Donald's story is significant in many levels--for the history, the highlight on education for adults living with autism, etc. My focus is on this: It is about love and acceptance. It is also about the fine, tricky balance between nurturing and letting go--a mother's universal mission. Mary Triplett, Donald's mother, valiantly carried on, struggling to even the scale amidst overwhelming odds. She made mistakes too, calling him "the most insane child", putting him in a sanitarium, but in the end… well, just look a Donald now. Autism Case No. 1 had wonderful parents, and an especially admirable mother. My life raising children is so different in circumstance from Mary Triplett. I can never really know how it is to nurture a person like Donald, but I celebrate how she did it. How fitting that I stumbled on this fantastic read just last night, as we approach Mother's Day. It's a gift, really.
May you be inspired.