**Companion Resources Newsletter**
edited by Paul D. Leichty
Volume 6, No. 7 July 2004
Our family made a move this month. We think it is a good move, a move toward greater independence. Yet the surprising results, thus far, have both humbled and blessed us! More in a minute.
Our 26-year-old son still needs support in his living arrangements. Yet, he can do many things for himself and he also values some privacy and time when Mom and Dad are not hovering over him. Therefore, one of our goals in looking for a home to buy was some space (in addition to his bedroom) that he could call his own.
We were about to set aside our search as a good, but ultimately fruitless, first round, when a house in an ideal location came to our attention. As we looked at the first floor, it seemed to meet our requirements–kitchen, living room, dining room, two bedrooms, plus another that was already turned into an office. It looked nice although not particularly striking. However, when we were led into the basement, my wife and I looked at each other almost incredulously. Here was another eat-in kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. The space was well-lit and attractive. It would allow Nathan to have his own apartment!
We spun out renewed dreams of how we could make a gradual transition from Nathan being fully dependent on us to being more independent. Having him under our roof yet with a separate living space seemed ideal. We could gradually teach more cooking and housekeeping skills, share laundry facilities, perhaps even open up the second bedroom some day to a housemate.
At the same time, we were attracted to that all-American ideal of once again owning our own home, even as heavily financed as it would need to be. To be “independent” instead of depending on a landlord seemed to be a good thing.
Well, we were soon reminded that home-owning is not all smooth sailing. Despite the many low-maintenance features, there were little things right from the start that needed immediate attention. A bigger lawn to mow, a leaky toilet, drawers that didn’t work, telephone wiring needed…all were needing attention in addition to the daunting task of moving all of our furniture, household and personal items!
Obviously, home ownership wasn’t making us any more independent than before! In fact, we felt very dependent! Yet it was at this very point that the blessings of living in a supportive and caring community became most evident. Friends helped clean our new house in the few days before our move. Members of our Sunday School class lifted a piano, a heavy couch, and numerous other weighty and awkward pieces of furniture that we could have never done on our own. Extended family members not only helped clean and move but did numerous tasks that would have either needed to be done by professionals or would have gotten put on the back burner. Neighbors pitched in to carry out bags and boxes. Other friends have provided us with gifts to grace our new home that we would not have purchased on our own. We feel blessed indeed!
Surely, this is the way it should be! We are blessed by each other’s gifts! We are not independent persons, but rather interdependent. Independence is the ideal of an individualistic society. Interdependence is the spirit of community.
What is great about our son’s situation is that he, too, is getting in on that spirit of interdependence. It is obvious that Nathan is pleased with his new apartment. At the same time, there are times when he obviously wants to be with us as his parents. That feels good, too! Being in a more residential neighborhood, yet still close to the bus line, will give him new opportunities to interact with others.
A work colleague of my wife has become a friend of the family and taken a special interest in Nathan. Among other gifts for the basement apartment has been a first pet–a fish. At the same time, he and his wife have offered opportunities for Nathan to help them with yard work. Nathan also has opportunities to interact more with his grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousin who live nearby.
The movement from dependence to greater independence is helping us all to realize that the real goal is interdependence. True, there are still skills that Nathan can learn that can boost independence as well as self-esteem. At the same time, we know that there are things that he likely never will be able to do. However, there are plenty of things that we, his parents, can’t do either! We all depend upon a community of family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, long-time and more recent supporters from church and community.
In our interdependence, we also find blessing! By encouraging and empowering each other, by sharing the gifts that we have, and graciously receiving gifts from others, we multiply the blessings of community life. Such a spirit of community breaks down the barriers and the labels that tend to separate us according to various types of abilities. However different they may be, we all have abilities and disabilities. Recognition of that fact moves us beyond the dichotomy of dependence and independence into a true interdependence that brings joy and hope and community.
Many blessings as you experience that interdependence in your lives this month!
Paul D. Leichty
Phone/Fax: 1-877-214-9838 (toll free)
“People using Technology building Community”