September 15, 2011

A Post from Sarah's Blog

Yesterday, our daughter Sarah posted the following piece on her blog (  Some of you may have read it already but for those who have not, we wanted to post it here as well. 


A few months ago we were at the library when a little girl came up, in a wheelchair and started playing with the train table.  As expected, our kids stared, fascinated with the wheelchair, and no longer interested in the trains!  On our way home there were lots of questions about why she was in the chair and what she can/cannot do.  I really wanted them to understand that she was still a little girl, just like Maya, except she's in a special chair! 

I want our kids to be able to see past the wheelchair, walker, prosthetic leg or seeing eye dog.  Talking about it with them is one thing, but one-on-one experience with someone special is proving to be the best teacher!  

My dad is currently using a walker, and is almost ready for the wheelchair full time.  The wheelchair has been in their house for a few weeks now, and at first it terrified the kids.  And to tell you the truth, it terrified me!  Everything is changing so fast...too fast.  Walkers, wheelchairs, bars, handles, wheelchair lifts, lazy-boys that lift you up out of your seat, chairs for in the shower, special pillows, all this equipment is so foreign.  Is this really my parents house? Is this really happening?

It is and I can honestly say that our kids are already changing their fear at all this "stuff" as they see their much loved Opa now uses it sometimes.  And I just love that!  I love how my dad casually takes them for rides, makes them laugh, and makes it all FUN!  Not only does it help them but it helps all of us slowly get used to seeing him in all this equipment, and having it become a part of their house and their everyday lives.

The other day we had a great visit with my dad, and Maya was even driving the wheelchair herself!  Motorized items and kids are a big hit!! Roman is still a little intimidated, but he'll get there. 

(Maya driving the wheelchair... and then it gets even better - hitching a ride with Opa!!)

The wheelchair that originally was intimidating is suddenly becoming "okay".  I see it as one of the small positives in all of the negativeness that ALS brings.  It is a wretched disease and as much as I despise the disease it makes me happy to look for positives, even small ones, from everything that has happened.

Small things, like perhaps my children will be more accepting and loving towards a person with a disability because even though it may seem different they know that their Opa has one and he is still the same Opa, he still loves them to bits and still gives them treats and makes them laugh, even from his wheelchair!

And for me, it's like balm on a wound seeing my dad interacting with them and making them laugh and still being the same Opa as always!  He may have a few extra pieces of equipment around, he may be a little slower at doing things, but he's still the same dad as always and it makes my heart happy and my eyes tear with joy to see.  I feel a small sense of peace watching it all, and knowing that for today, things are still okay.  Today he can still laugh at their antics, he can still hug them and ruffle their hair.  Today I can still hear his voice and see his smile, listen to his wisdom and laugh at his jokes.  And for today, that's enough for me!

He is such a big part of our children's lives and is currently teaching them perhaps the biggest lessons of their life!  We have talked more about illnesses, our time here on earth, enjoying each day, how important it is to love Jesus, about dying and how amazing heaven is more in the last few months than we ever have with our children. 

This is a huge change for them.  Our family is so close and my parents are weekly involved with our children.  Opa and Oma play a huge part in their lives, and they are realizing that their Opa, their Mommy's daddy, is very sick.  The questions and opportunities to talk come at different times - at night before bed, driving in the van, or after a recent Opa/Oma visit.  But slowly, they are taking it all in.  And, like kids usually do, they are accepting the change and just go on with the new "normal", surprisingly okay with it all.  Children are much more resilient then we give them credit for!

 And like everything my dad does, he is doing a wonderful job of helping our children transition.  He is such an example to them of how a true Christian deals with pain, sickness and death.  When he talks to them its the perfect mix of love, laughter and most of all pointing to Christ.  Even in this final chapter of his life, and even though he may not know it, he is leaving his children and grand-children with the most practical example of how to live our lives for God, no matter the circumstance, trusting and relying on God alone! 

And I think this may be the greatest gift he could ever leave us all. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Sarah for posting this. Yes it truly wonderful and a blessing that your dad can show people that having a disability can be a blessing from God and how happy he is knowing Christ. I believe now more than ever that in this short time your dad has been teaching all those around him more than he ever did in school,just this time not acadmically but spiritually. Thank you Mr. Westerink!!