Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Son and An Inauguration

I'm just back from New Jersey where I helped my son move his things into his room at the group home where he now lives. (He has Down syndrome.)

And now we have a new president.

I find myself thinking that for my son, who doesn't really understand about new presidents, his emotions must still be similar to so many of us in this country. He is worried about the changes in his life and what they will ultimately mean. He is not happy about having to give up what is familiar and to have to follow rules at the group home. In the end, I know his life will be better for this change but for now it's a difficult time for him.

For me and for others in the United States there is also a sense of uncertainty—about changes and what we may have to give up or do that will perhaps be difficult. At the same time, we are able to see possibilities. We can understand what Barack Obama meant when he said—and I'm paraphrasing here—that we must not and need not give up our souls or our honor in order to create the lives we want to live. We are fortunate. We have the ability to imagine how things might be in a way that my son cannot.

One thing my son does do well is see into people's hearts regardless of their outward appearance. He does not care the color of someone's skin or what their religious or political beliefs might be. He looks at the person and judges them by how they behave. Would that we all had that gift.

I was born at a time when Barack Obama's election would have been unthinkable. I am proud that we now live in a time when it can. I am proud of the dignity with which George W. Bush left office and Barack Obama stepped into office. I am proud that our country seems to be united—at least today—in a way that it has not been for far too long.

I wish my son could comprehend the significance of the inauguration. I hope he can begin to focus more on what is good about his new home and the possibilities for growth and happiness that exist in this new setting. I hope that we all are able to focus on the possibilities ahead for ourselves and for our country. And if we are writers, I hope that we are finding ways to put that hope into words because history will want to know how it was, how people felt and what they believed and hoped when these changes took place.