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A Miracle To Believe In

Chapter 1 Continued


The fire licked the bricks behind the mesh screen. The easy, muted horn of Miles Davis filled the room with its special melody; an old jazz aroma from an early nineteen sixties' album. Our daughters played backgammon. Intense and competitive Bryn, just eleven years old, dangled her head and arms over the side of the couch as she energetically threw the dice, converting an otherwise mellow game into the mini-Olympics. She threw her arms into the air and shouted in response to the high score of double sixes. Then she turned to me, smiled her sultry victory smile and returned to the game. Thea, poised gracefully on crossed legs, ignored her sister's outburst. Though she participated enthusiastically, she maintained only a limited investment in winning. Thea embraced her world in a more ethereal and mystical manner than her sister. The moment-to-moment involvement excited her far more than the outcome.

A small city of wood blocks jutted majestically skyward from the shaggy rug. Raun, our four-year-old architect-in-residence, busily constructed houses and towers and office buildings just west of the coffee table and south of the fireplace. His eyes beamed at the rising structures. Occasionally, he solicited our help for his more delicate designs. Suddenly, Raun paused, looked directly into my eyes with a silly grin, then charged at me like a bull. I intercepted his thrust with my arm, tossing him gently into his mother's lap. Immediately consumed by Suzi's kisses, Raun giggled and screeched. On his feet within seconds, he asked me to "slap him five," which triggered a short series of comic antics.

The piercing ring of the telephone cut through the music. Suzi motioned to me, indicating Jaime Ankrom as the caller. We exchanged a smile, knowing we were about to embark on another journey with another special child.

"Hello, Jaime. Welcome to New York. How was the trip?"

"Good, the plane ride was very pleasant," he said.

"And the Sotos and little Robertito?"

"They, too, had an enjoyable flight. We have made hotel accommodations for tonight at the airport. The Sotos would like to know what time after work would you be available to meet with them."

"Oh, wow," I said, awed by the realization they had traveled thousands of miles for, perhaps, an evening meeting of only several hours. "Suzi and I will be available for you all day tomorrow and if you want, the next day and the next. We've cleared an entire work week." I listened to him translate my words.

"The Sotos are very grateful to you and your wife for your kindness. They say we can arrive any time. What is most convenient for you?"

"Nine in the morning would be fine. And, Jaime, please tell them we will try to share what we know and are happy, very happy to do it," I said. Again he translated the words, then closed our conversation with a rather succinct good-bye.

Something about the tone of their telegrams and their letters excited both Suzi and me. To translate Son-Rise into Spanish, then hire an interpreter and fly with their son to New York represented a special determination. Though I have carefully responded, in some personal form, to each letter amid the hundreds we received each month, the process of making ourselves available to teach and help by sharing our vision and attitude formed the most difficult task. Without the support of funds and grants, which we continued to solicit, our involvement in this area began to seriously drain our financial resources. Nevertheless, we chose to continue as long as possible, also working with schools and early childhood developmental centers wanting to adopt our perspective and techniques.

Before the Sotos' arrival, Suzi and I spent hours discussing optimum conditions for working with them and Robertito. Since they had traveled over three thousand miles to see us, we decided to try to be with them on a marathon basis, which differed from our previous involvement with special children and their parents. Usually, our input with them was limited to single visits or a series of full day sessions spanning several months. Although we had witnessed immediate and spectacular changes in some children, in most situations we felt hampered by limited time or the lack of consistency in the child's total environment.

A grant might have enabled us to help parents surround their children with a network of loving and accepting mentors capable of giving sensitive and responsive input around the clock, seven days a week ... a critical component of the program which facilitated our son's rapid and amazing rebirth. An idea evolved, but not yet consummated; a fantasy composed, but not yet delivered. For the moment, with the Sotos, we would do what we could ... not by mourning what wasn't, but by celebrating what was.

Chapter 1 Continued