Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy July 4th...What this "country" means to me...

I know I have said this before but I feel compelled, tonight, to wax poetically about our tiny town we live in. Our town is small...well...small isn't really the word. We don't have a stop light and only a couple of stop signs in the town limits. Let's just say, you could miss it if you blinked, it is also very rural. But our town has a host of "mis" conceptions attached to it. It is not "known" outside of the community as an accepting place but it is really a "mis" conception.

Tonight was our town's Independence Day Celebration. All the churches get out and set up tents and provide games, inflatables, food, drinks, snow cones, face painting...all for free! The street fills up around 5 or 6 with children, pets, families, strollers and everyone brings chairs to watch the fireworks at dark.

This year we took Faith, my sister and her oldest boy. The community is so close knit, everyone knows everyone. Even people I don't know...know me! Now this is the part that brings tears of joy down my face tonight, as I remember this magical evening. We decided to be brave and surprise everyone by bringing Faith's walker and let her walk the street. It was her first coming out party "walking" ever. Most of the people she knows have never seen her walk. She came tramping down the street and in moments we had a host of fans, followers and admirers trailing behind us...photographing, cheering her on, clapping for her!

Perfect strangers came up to talk to her and encourage her. This is a friend of ours who is mostly deaf who adores Faith and was kind enough to decorate Faith's cheek with...
( Gamecocks Rule...that's for you, Carl!)

It is hard to explain to people who aren't from here or people who don't have special needs kids how isolated it can make you feel when you have a sick child. But this community.....
has welcomed her into it's fold.

This little girl is not a girl scout but she does know Faith through girl scouts. Ever since she met Faith she has gone out of her way to reach out to Faith. She is a rec cheerleader and every time I see her she comes running up to me and asks if I have decided to let Faith be a cheerleader this fall. She never misses a chance to ask me! She came running up to us and the first thing out of her mouth...."Can Faith be a cheerleader this fall? Have you decided?"
SO CUTE! She made Faith two bead bracelets and decorated her wheelchair with carefully chosen stickers.

This is my favorite shot of the evening. These girls LOVE her...really LOVE is not the word! When they saw her walking they were yelling and cheering and telling everyone! We saw lots of people we knew who had never seen her walk who were awestruck. We met about 15 new people from surrounding communities who had to come meet Faith and she charmed them all, blowing kisses, calling out to them as they passed by. When she got overheated and we needed a place to let her rest and get cooled down...women from the Methodist church gave up their spots in front of a fan to let her recover.
Her stamina was INCREDIBLE ....the longest she had ever walked. I would say maybe an hour! Up and down the street...up and down...waiving at her fans and marching along watching all the people. When she saw someone she knew she would say..."Awwwww" and point and head straight that way. Men, women, children, dogs all were fair game.
See what I mean...this lady we did not even know brought her puppy for Faith to see and the first thing she did was reach out and hug and kiss the puppy.

She was so happy and I could never begin to describe how my heart was swollen with PRIDE!

She didn't make it to the fireworks, Carl had to take her home but I got a mom's night out and stayed with my sister to watch them. They were beautiful but as I watched the evening grow dark and the lights grow dim...fireworks starting.... I turned to look at all the people lying in the grass, on the street....all gazing at the sky...I was thinking...MAN, forget the fireworks! Look at these amazing people! Look how they have accepted my daughter! What an amazing community we are so lucky to live in! Although it is is full of heart and kindness! I have never been one to have attention drawn towards me but I tell you I walked straight down the middle of the street like the Queen of England, proud! It's so hard to explain without being here, being there to witness this tiny girl "OWNING" her community! I just don't have the words to describe it. Tears of happiness to know that she has a HOME in our town, she belongs, she is accepted, she is LOVED, she is encouraged, she is cherished. "
That is the what INDEPENDENCE means to me!



ANewKindOfPerfect said...

Happy Independance Day! I am loving the pictures of Faith up and walking. Look at her! :) What kind of walker is that? My Peanut is getting a Crocodile walker with a sling seat and such in July. It looks similar to Faith's. I am so excited, I can't wait to take Peanut out like you did with Faith! :)

Mo said...

That's all we could ever ask for, Candace... A sense of belonging. I'm so thankful that Faith has her 'place' in this world because she more than deserves it.

Jo said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. I am so happy to hear that Faith lives in a town where people recognize what a wonderful little girl she is. I've found that one advantage in the city is that people very rarely stop to stare at Monkey. The great disadvantage to that, however, is that people rarely stop at all. You can go years without getting to know the people who live right next door. Even surrounded by millions of people, you can feel quite lonely. Your post has me yearning to pick up and move to a tiny town right now!
Happy Fourth!

Amber said...

You are always making me cry!!!!
Such a beautiful story...a beautiful tale of love and acceptance! Thank you for sharing this with us...I'm so very proud of her!!!!

caryanne said...

WOW. What a great time you had! And way to go Faith! I just loved reading this post and you had me in tears by the end.

Happy Independence Day!

The Henrys said...

Beautiful post. This touches my heart to no end. I love hearing all of the wonderful stories you tell about how loving everyone is to Faith. It really is inspiring when I see just how much happiness your town brings you. It gives me faith trying to get Gracie out and involved more. I'm just never sure how she will handle activities, but I guess I should start trying!

BTW, I think that we would like to try one of the switches that you got for Faith. I will try to write an email soon! Thank you so much!

Janet "Grammy" Harrold said...

Beautiful post, beautifully written about a beautiful little girl! Thank you for visiting my blog yesterday and learning about Hailey. I will follow your blog and have added you to my blogroll. Nice to meet you, Janet

Jean said...

Faith is absolutely stunning...what an apt name for such an inspirational little girl.
I can't believe she has so much stamina! It must be so liberating for her to be able to chose which direction to walk in.
Beautiful, beautiful post XXX

Anonymous said...


Hubby and I loved the small towns we lived in and yes, each of them showed more acceptance of differences than any of the metropolitan cities where we have lived.

Truly happy for Faith's gains in walking! Barbara

Alicia said...

What a wonderful, heart rending account of your town and how they love Faith. I grew up in a a very small town and I remember the special needs kids being rock stars, just like Faith is. Sounds like you are surrounded by awesome, loving people. That's so great!

BusyLizzyMom said...

What a wonderful day. From all your posts I have read it sounds like you do live in a community that is perfect for Faith. That is so great that she spent the day using her walker, she must have felt her own kind of freedom as she chose where she could go.

Amy Genn said...

How exciting! :)

Ellen said...

Hi! It is AMAZING to see her walking like that! I was really touched by how great your community is, and how those little girls clearly adore Faith. We don't have that here...somehow, kids are more mean where we live. Is it the Northeast?! Something in the water???

Wonderful post.