Chris Burke and his mom

Marian Burke wrote a lovely introduction to our book, Sexuality: Your Sons and Daughters with Intellectual Disabilities (Brookes, 2000) that I put together with Dave Hingsburger. Here’s a ‘where are they now’ piece on Oprah.You might want to give it a listen. Marian was very genrous to lend us her thoughts as a mom and the pride in her son Chris was clear. My family and I were tickled to present a media award to the Life Goes On producers at the Warner Brothers Sudios in Burbank from the Canadian Association for Community Living.  I interviewed producer Michael Braverman, and were happy to be given free reign to wander the set; we met Bill Smitrovich, Chris, Andrea Friedman, Kellie Martin, and we watched an episode being filmed.  Chris is 48 now, wow, hard to believe as we think back many years ago when we watched the Life Goes On series and saw our own family played out in so much of it. I was happy to have a glimpse of Chris and his life today. Here’s a review:

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‘This warm and sympathetic book is designed to help parents build their children’s self-esteem (whether their children are prepubescent or already adults) and educate them about sexuality and safety. It explains what to teach, when to teach and how to teach. It addresses issues such as self-acceptance, values, parallel talk, privacy, appopriate behaviour, abuse, physical and emotional development in the teen years, relationships, marriage and parenting. The authors introduce “guides” – individuals with disabilities and their parents – whose experiences serve as examples throughout the book. These guides, as well as the authors’ anecdotes and conversational tone, make information that is often presented awkwardly (or not at all) easily accessible to parents. The information and the stories that show how much is possible for young people, regardless of their disabilities, will help parents to accept their children’s sexual development and to interact with their children in ways that will allow them to develop into confident, aware adults. The authors also include answers to frequently asked questions and sections for parents to reflect and plan how to broach different issues with their children.’

 

Handmade, homemade, good neighbours

Isn’t there something in the air at this time of year that makes you want to harvest, hunt, gather, squirrel away? We managed to take custody of a great green apple tree after friends moved to Victoria this summer. Oddly and happily enough, in that small town way, turned out we knew the new owners because they’d responded to a Kijiji ad of mine several months ago. When we asked if they wanted to swap some apples from their magnificent tree they just bought with the house for a few jars of chutney or apple sauce, they happily agreed. So here’s what my day looked like!

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IGA alumni: a good friend is never far away

It’s been probably about 38 years since I was a clerk at the IGA grocery store in Fairview, Alberta. Back then, we had to memorize the weekly flier, the specials and make change at the til IN OUR HEADS! Needless to say, no matter how much the manager hoped and how much cheerleading I got from my mentor Cindy, I don’t think that damn til balanced once. What I really wanted to be was a bag boy, but girls didn’t get to be bag boys then. I hadn’t seen Cindy for at least 35 years, but several months ago, out of the blue, Cindy found me on the Internet and sent me an email. She hoped we could reconnect one day. Well, I emailed her back a few weeks ago and said, “Be careful what you wish for!” Cindy and her husband Mark hosted me during my recent book interview trip, and even cheerfully posed for photos with the woman I was interviewing. Everyone deserves a good friend who remembers all the things you’ve forgotten from way back when and who reaches out across those years to say hello.

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And just in case she didn’t recognize me at the airport, I brought along my antique IGA name tag.

In the air

My view this week as I head to northern Alberta to interview and photograph a family for a book about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Another in a wonderful and fascinating series of interviews I’m collecting for a project sponsored by the Alberta Association for Community Living and the Alberta FASD Family Advisory Council. This view as on my way to Grande Prairie, happily close to my old high school stopping grounds in Fairview, Alberta, and even more happily I was the sleepover guest of an old friend. 

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