Posted by Michael Zahara on Aug 22, 2009
I don’t write or speak much about other things in my life because as a classic Gemini, I think that’s against the law or something, but yes, there is more to me than politics; I have a personal, professional, and philanthropic life too. Politics is a hobby; a 30 year vocation of public participation and community involvement for me.
The other parts of my life just never intersect with the political aspects. Most people who know me don’t know about the other aspects of my life, and I kind of prefer it that way, though I don’t make a conscious effort at separation.
But today, I will make an exception and talk about a labor of love for me, and that is my time given over to Opportunity Village, one of four local charitable endeavors that I participate in.
I don’t do much, just chaperon once a month at their ‘dances’ for their ‘clients’ held on Friday evenings. These dances are a very big deal for these people ranging in age from their teens to late 50’s, and who all have some level of developmental and/or physical disability. This monthly socialization is critical to them; it’s their Palms on a Friday night on west Oakey Blvd, complete with a talented DJ well known to the local rock band scene; he goes to his professional band gigs when he’s done. Most ‘clients’—that’s what they’re called there—come to OV during the day to participate in occupational therapies that include making the condiment and dinnerware sets the big hotels use, a very successful document-shredding operation, and they even make political campaign and other buttons!
I’ve written before about ‘life’ issues I’ve struggled with, and my Abortion Chunky Style piece was viewed all over the world and I have no idea how they found out about it either.
I wasn’t trying to be provocative with that piece; it’s just how I feel. I wish I could see things as clearly as others can; I just can’t, it’s not in my make-up as a person; it’s not that easy for me.
In the six years I’ve been with this OV project, I’ve occasionally considered how empty my life would be today if these people we help at OV weren’t there; were thought too troublesome or burdensome to be brought into the world.
That’s not an easy contemplation for me, because I’ve never seen these people as ‘different’, just differently-abled. They love and laugh, they jam like crazy on that dance floor in the gym, they know every word to every song, and you should see some of these people bustin’ a move out there! Some can’t move at all, and just soak it all up in their scooters and chairs.
And they have the same troubles and travails that we all do; I give more advice to lovelorn young people than Dear Abby. Just two who captured my heart and that I love like sons and two of the most interesting people I have ever known are Josh and Eddie. Josh is an ambulatory, physically disabled guy, early 20’s, handsome young man who under different circumstances would be Hollywood material. He has bedded every woman there, I think. He dresses to the nines, is charming, very funny, and doesn’t think about ‘what if’ ‘what could have been’, ‘if only God didn’t do this to me…’
Josh has a full-time job, lives in a group home, drinks a bit, smokes a bit, carouses, and is a productive member of society. He’s a lot of fun to hang around with despite his being 23 years my junior.
I often wonder about him and if someone had thought that he wasn’t worth the trouble of bringing him to term; I am so very grateful that they did; our city and our world are better places because he’s here with us today.
Then there is Eddie; early 30’s guy, clear, big bright eyes and a beautiful smile; my love for this kid knows no bounds. He can’t speak, he can’t walk, or go to the restroom without major help; he is strapped upright to a cardiac chair and his body convulses with the cruel spasms of Cerebral Palsy so severe, your heart breaks at first, until you realize that being with Eddie has you in a very special place.
I can’t explain it, it just ‘is’.
We took to each other instantly, we have developed an interpersonal communication technique that somehow we both understand each other and it kind of happened accidentally. Today, he’ll hold my hand and despite his not being more than 110 pounds, he can squeeze the livin’ shit out of it when he gets excited! To have to feed him and bring juice to his mouth would seem an undignified way to live to most, I guess, but he seems just happy being a part of everything, and hangin’ out with me.
He lifts me to places I had never been before and though we can’t talk to each other like men do and we can’t do things other men do together, I can’t even imagine my life without this kid in it.
And I wonder too about him and the certain burdens he has placed on his family who is not wealthy and who struggle every day. Did she ever consider other options rather than carrying him to term?
The reason I wrote about all of this today was Newsweek’s issue dated August 31, 2009 and the chilling story of Dr LeRoy Carhart, titled ‘The Abortion Evangelist’
This story is disturbing.
One man arbitrarily deciding who lives and dies is the basic gist of the story. The piece is well written, comprehensive, and even-handed, and if you read this story and don’t stop to think, then you are if not a better person than me, then certainly a different one.
Again, I don’t have, and never will have, the answers to these intensely personal and private matters in other people’s lives, but I do know that I am most grateful that two mothers in Las Vegas never met Dr LeRoy Carhart, and who I’d like to believe would have never sought him out either.
Thanks for the blessings Josh and Eddie’s Moms; I’ll make sure their needs are met when the time comes that you can not.
It’s the least that I can do in return for the gifts that you’ve given to me.