Russell was 10 years old when I was born. Over my lifetime, my mom has shared various stories about various incidents that occurred before I was born each which lives vividly in my mind. Like the time when Russell pulled a chunk of hair out of another child’s head (my father's then boss) because he couldn't communicate verbally and because frustrated or when he would stay up all night (my mom says he didn’t sleep until he was 10) and would play his record player at random times in the middle of the night or, one of my favorites, when he threw all her pots and pans over their porch balcony into the pond just below. Russell did not speak until he was 7 years old. My mom and dad endured numerous medical treatments, experimental trials in hopes of discovering the root cause of their child’s behavior and achieving a cure.
Fast forward 40 plus years, here I am with a special needs child of my own who will more than likely require a lifetime of ongoing care. I’ve slathered myself in self-pity and cried a river just thinking that my child would never experience the life I had selfishly planned for in my mind. How he wouldn’t be named in Sports Illustrated “Faces in the Crowd” and would not go on to achieve what I referred to as “greatness” as an athlete breaking records for his 40 yard dash and number of RBIs.
But really, what is greatness? Over the past five years, the meaning of “greatness” has been redefined for me. Greatness is the spirit that Vincent embodies, always working hard when performing any task, always pushing himself beyond his comfort zone. Regardless of the forum in which he achieves, he believes he is achieving “greatness” and that is all that matters. It’s all about keeping perspective. The pace of Vincent’s progress may not be what I anticipated, but that makes each achievement so much more meaningful and memorable. I’ve learned to savor in the present and not allow the my thoughts of the future spoil each moment.