Reincarnated As A Mother

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tears, Smiles (and hugs too)!

So most of you know I used to work for CBS in L.A. where I made fast friendships with two
of my favorite people in the world:  Les Rose and Steve Hartman.
You might remember Les from our trip to Disneyland/California.  He's the one who smuggled us
onto the sets of The Price Is Right, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and The Restless.  Les is one of the nicest guys you'll ever be lucky enough to meet.  As a news photographer, he has this knack for putting people
at ease and getting them to open up and be themselves.
Steve just so happens to be one of the best writers in television.  He can often be found as the final story in the
CBS Evening News or on CBS's Sunday Morning.
I got an email from the boys yesterday that they were headed to New Mexico for a story "I might find interesting".
They were headed to profile a man in his twenties, who also happens to have Down syndrome.
Tim is quite the force of nature. 
He won a gold medal in the Special Olympics, he was voted Homecoming King at his high school winning with a record number of votes.
And get this, he graduated from college and has opened up his own restaurant "Tim's Place"... where along with good food; customers can order hugs from Tim.
Hugs are actually on the menu.
Les sent me a few articles on Tim, including the speech Tim's father, Keith gave at Tim's college graduation.
Here's a tiny excerpt that brought big tears from me...


As long as I live, I'll never forget the look on Jeannie's face as I entered the room. She knew instinctively that something was wrong. My heart broke for her, for our newborn son Tim, and for our family. Would our lives ever be the same? Raise your hand if you've lived through a similar scene. It's not something I'd wish on anyone. Well, time has a way of changing our perspectives if we're open to it. A few weeks later, I got the nerve up to call a local support group and a short time later we were visited at home by a family with a three year old daughter with Down syndrome. The doorbell rang; I opened the door and was greeted by one of many angels I'd have the chance to meet in my life. This particular angel was about two and a half feet tall, blond, and had a smile and a laugh that could light up a room. The afternoon flew by, the angel played with our son Danny, and their family life looked pretty normal to me. Hope emerged. The fear and dread faded. Life moved ahead.
Several very busy years passed and suddenly Tim was in first grade. Our family had grown and we now had four sons, all two years apart in age; Tim being second oldest.

More time passed and now Tim was in Eldorado High School in Albuquerque. Tim was enormously popular in High School, mostly I think because of his uncanny knack for connecting with everyone no matter what group or click they belonged to. The athletes, the cheerleaders, the brainy kids, the skateboarder crowd, the group that all dressed in black and smoked cigarettes like chimneys across the street. They all called Tim friend. Well, almost everyone. A story we heard, after the fact, occurred during Tim's freshman year. Apparently, a couple of boys decided to corner Tim every day after school and make him give up his left over lunch money. Tim, being a pacifist, didn't resist or tell anyone. This apparently went on for some time. One afternoon that fall, during the daily shakedown, loud footsteps came from down the hall. It was the Varsity football team heading out to practice. The boys, many of whom had known Tim from elementary school saw the villains in action.
What happened next was described to us later by Tim. "The team dented the lockers in the hall with those guys, Tim said. "Oh, and they called them bowling balls and slid them down the hall, too. The "bad guys" were warned that if they ever went near Tim again they would be very, very sorry. Some angels wear football uniforms and cleats.

I met Tim on the phone today.
And he's an angel.
Les had him call me.
Only point 4 seconds into the conversation I was choking up.
He told me to always remember that my son and I have more in common than we have differences.
I was wishing I was at Tim's Place and could order up one of those hugs.
But what he gave me on the phone was pretty darn close.

So far Tim has filled 18 thousand plus orders for hugs at his restaurant!
Steve and Les's story will air this Friday night on the CBS Evening News.
It is scheduled to air again on Father's Day (fitting, eh?) during the
Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood show.
I'll be watching.