Oliver still remains the most hopeless human being I ever met, the weakest human being I ever met, and yet he was on of the most powerful human beings I ever met. (POTP, P12)
Dictionary.com had 32 definitions for the word power under three different parts of speech: noun, verb, and adjective. Very few of them seem to apply to Oliver, yet his power is unmistakable.
Words like might, strength, or force wouldn’t be typically associated with a person who couldn’t feed himself. There are very few things that Oliver had “the ability to do, or act.” Wouldn’t he then be, powerless? In his blockbuster novel, Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton brought the Chaos Theory into the public eye when he had Ian Malcolm say, “A butterfly can flap its wings in Peking and in Central Park you get rain instead of sunshine.” Whether you buy into the Chaos Theory or not, Malcolm’s anecdote speaks to the idea of a seemingly powerless figure being profoundly influential on its surroundings.
When your world is touched by any form of disability, chaos ensues. Had Malcolm know my family he might have said, “A little boy can lose oxygen at birth and Barnes and Noble sells a few copies of a football book.” They might seem unrelated, but they are more intertwined than you’d think.
The chaos is powerful. The more I think about it, the more I believe it’s undeniable. Ask any parent, in an extraordinary home, about the power of their chaos. They will tell you about rearranged schedules and priorities, about power cramming knowledge into their, once oblivious, minds, or about feeling emotions they were unfamiliar with. They might describe remodeling their home or moving to a new one, you might hear how they had to fight their local school or find a new education plan altogether, and you could hear about the staggering amounts of money they’ve spent on all the unforseen care. It’s like getting a Goldberg Spear.
Those kinds of things happened in the De Vinck home, but his words don’t covey hurt or anguish. He talks of Oliver and the chaos he produced as change agents for the good. It was a fire, but like a controlled burn in a national park, it was blaze that regenerates. I don’t want to reduce Oliver’s life, or anyone else’s for that matter, to an inspirational example. Caedmon doesn’t have Cerebral Palsy so that you can be motivated to work hard. He might inspire you; he inspires me all the time, but that’s not the reason he has CP. My feeling inspired points to the power of the chaos.
I’m going simile and metaphor crazy here, but I’m having fun reliving my childhood, so bear with me. Think of the power of extraordinary chaos like Scott Summers explosive optic power. He possessed a frightening and destructive power. But Professor Xavier found him and taught him the truth about his unique gift. Under Xavier’s tutelage, Scott learned that his power was a good thing as long as he handled it properly. With newfound perspective, Scott Summers became Cyclops, and the X-Men were formed.
Handling it properly is the key. Perspective. One man sees terrifying rapids, another sees a potential source of electricity. One sees fear, the other opportunity, but the power is the same. This is the chaos in my home.
Caedmon doesn’t have CP to make me a better person. But, I can become a better person as the chaos surrounds me. I could also become worse. I could become bitter, frustrated, or depressed. Caedmon could throw pity-parties, and make excuses. But he doesn’t and I won’t. Our family will stand in the chaos and let the power of it all change us, for the better.
As outsiders look at us, with our hair blowing behind us, our arms raised in the air, and screaming our lungs out as the ride flips us upside-down, and they can’t imagine themselves on our roller coaster life. Maybe you’ve felt that way before. It is crazy, even scary at times, but it’s awesome! We have seen and experienced things in our lives, and in the lives of others, that we wouldn’t have in a “normal” family.
I have a hard time imagining Oliver’s home. His existence is radically different from Caedmon’s. I’ve not walked in the shoes of someone who loves someone with classic autism. I don’t know what it’s like to care for an adult who is totally dependent. But I know there’s power in their homes. My encouragement to them, and to you, is to handle it properly. If you let it, it will burn you and potentially destroy your life. But, if you let it, it can produce fruit beyond your wildest gustatory dreams!