In 1964 I was diagnosed as having Epilepsy. Mum found me laying in front of the TV convulsing. Eventually, it was proved to be related to my Diabetes for I don't have seizures unless my blood sugars are extremely low and haven't had one in thirty-four years. I discount a possible seizure some twenty years ago as it showed none of the after effects. No bitten tongue. No feelings of overwhelming sadness followed by depression. No extremes of fatigue. I believe I passed out from having low sugar but for once didn't go into convulsions.
My dad was a silent type when it came to his own ill health. He never made much mention of it when unwell and certainly never complained if he had a cold. He never had 'man flu.' As a child, when his hand was shut in a car door, he said nothing. It wasn't until a relative spotted blood seeping from his gloved hand that anyone knew he was injured. Nor was dad a coward. When the industrial strikes of Wapping happened, as a senior manager at News International and one whose first loyalties were to his family, he defied the unions and went to work. Bricks were thrown at the bus he travelled to work in and hate mail sent to his home. Oddly, when he died two years later something like 100 men, unionists all, turned up to his funeral. He did the right thing. However, when it came to my having fits, he would turn on his heel and exit the room leaving my mum to deal with the situation whilst he telephoned for an ambulance.
Dad couldn't bear to see me whilst having spasms. Mum told me it made him weep like a child. I have often wondered why? Not in a judgemental way as I completely understand the hurt he must have felt, the utter sense of being powerless to help his beloved son. He didn't like to discuss my fits even if he had no problem with my diabetes per see. Something deep within him ran from the problem. Something about epilepsy being of the brain. It transpired later that one of his Uncles had epilepsy, although unrelated to my condition, so perhaps dad felt guilty. It was from his side of the family the 'weakness,' the flaw originated from?
As I have said, dad was not a man who sought attention, quite the reverse. The way I dressed in my youth caused him no end of embarrassment as did his Cockney mum's lifting of her skirts as she danced on a table top to some East London bawdy song. Yet for him to be so seemingly ashamed of my condition is at odds with the man's character. I know he loved me, of that there is no doubt. I wonder then, in some curious way, was his dislike of my epilepsy due to him thinking himself to blame?
Of course, he wasn't. No parent is to blame if a child they have helped to create comes into this world less than perfect. The first question we should ask is who is to say what is perfect? Is there such a thing as human perfection? There have been misguided souls who sought perfection, Adolf Hitler for one, but at the end of the day, it is merely human judgement, humankind's seeking to apportion blame when there is no blame to apportion that brings such pain into so many lives. Humankind judges yet nature, God if you like, makes no mistakes. Existence needs balance and to balance existence means, by human standards, a levelling of all living things. I am diabetic for a reason. I feel no resentment for that disease for at the end of the day I have a life to live and live it I am.
The same goes for all those who we human's call special needs people. There is no such thing as a special needs person. We all have needs. We are here to live and to love and in the living, the loving means taking extra care of those who need it.
I don't think my dad felt sorry for himself. It simply wasn't his nature yet there are some who do feel sorry for themselves. Maybe dad did but he shouldn't have for there are powers at work far greater than any father or mother. A parent can blame themselves for having brought a child into this world who the world judges as less than average. There is no average there just is life. Live it. Live it now. Live it for yourself and those you love no matter how long you live or how short - just live now. And love as though love were all there is of life for in truth love is everything in this life.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.