Every November, most folks envision a tantalizing turkey dinner with relatives for reconnection, recollection and relaxation. For others, Thanksgiving is about watching a big ballgame on television, or getting a jump on early Christmas shopping sprees. Some families show their gratitude by serving others who are less fortunate.
My hope is that all Americans may also reflect on our historical past, when two different cultures came together in peace, cooperation and celebration. Goodness knows we need more of that.
All of these precious images mentioned above flow through my mind. But a deeply rooted memory every November is the birth (and life) of our cute, but complex, daughter, Miss Heidi Ann Pearson. After a seemingly normal pregnancy, she surprised us all by coming early—in her eighth month of gestation.
Thankfully, my rural doctor finally decided my contractions were not stopping, and arranged for an ambulance to transport us (the unborn baby still within me) to a larger hospital in Provo with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. That night on the freeway, I almost delivered in the cold, cramped ambulance! Gratefully, we detoured to the Nephi hospital, and in the-nick-of-time, our preemie was safely born.
Weighing just 4 pounds, 6 ounces, Heidi was a little cutie-pie, and we felt miraculously blessed. We continued our journey north, and our new team of medical specialists spotted some small indications that Heidi might have Down syndrome. I can honestly say the difficult news was not devastating. I felt a deep peace, beyond all understanding. A week later, chromosome tests indicated that Heidi had trisomy 21 or Down syndrome. It was official.
Well, life was good then, but we became beyond busy, with therapists, ear appointments, and all the rest — a true marathon. When you have loved ones with special needs, days are busier, nights are longer, but love is deeper, and homes can be stronger. Frankly, it’s a good thing I didn’t know all the hardships and heartaches that were ahead. We just kept plugging away, and the six of us turned out pretty good, thank the Lord.
This Thanksgiving, Heidi will come up here for a home-visit, and our day will most likely be quiet and mellow. Heidi is 30 now, (I can’t believe it either) and lives in a great Host Home, where she’s the only client with special needs living with a loving family. We see each other throughout the year, whenever it works out.
Heidi’s three sisters and her nieces and nephews will be with the in-laws for the day, so Rod and I will solely focus on Miss Heidi’s needs and wants this year. (Frankly, I look forward to the low-key pace.) Sometimes it’s hard to know what Heidi wants, as her speech is severely limited, and her autistic moods run hot and cold. But we’ll do our best to help her feel welcomed, comfortable and loved.
Each year I usually do a little Thanksgiving game, song, or story around the table, and this year I’ve done it early — with you — my friend. I took each letter in the word Thanksgiving and discovered blessings linked to Heidi. Here we go!
T: I’m thankful for Heidi’s many therapists, teachers and tenders.
H: I’m happy for helpful holistic health information to help her, like herbs and homeopathy.
A: I’m appreciative for attitude adjustments to “Always include all.”
N: I feel gratitude for neighbors who were super nice to Heidi, and nations that are noble.
K: I’m thankful for kind kids, our memories of kittens, kites, kick ball, kitchen crafts and sewing kits.
S: I appreciate my siblings setting good examples, plus the sisterhood and brotherhood I feel at church.
G: I’m glad for government grants and good programs that generally helped Heidi gain goals.
I: I’m infinitely influenced by information to increase our intelligence, ideas to fight ignorance about disabilities, and the internet to initiate interactions.
V: I’m very grateful to my valiant husband. He knows the importance of values, as well as valentines, vacations and various venues for our daughters, like music, theater and photos.
I: I’m very thankful for personal introspection, divine inspiration, and ideas to help my angel child with illnesses and complex impairments.
N: A nod of approval to noble organizers who help the needy. Their service to those who do not have the necessities of life helps neutralize my burdens with an adult child with notable deficits.
G: We’re grateful to God, for wonderful grandparents, and good people all around this glorious globe.
I encourage all of us to count our many blessings this month and always. Consider taking the word Thanksgiving and do this same concept at your family feast. Don’t forget to snap photos; over time, they’ll become even more precious.
Elayne Pearson, CAS, is a Special Needs Preparedness Specialist. Send questions, comments or speaking invitations to: firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram: hiddentreasuresofhealth www.hiddentreasuresofhealth.com