Yesterday was the final day of what I call the 12 days of Allyson..my 45th birthday! Whaaaaat? 45? How crazy is that? I love love love my birthday. It’s a day all about me, what’s not to love? And this year I got to spend it in the best way ever. With my Best Gal Pal Hal at the Special Olympics Central Maine Basketball Tourney at the Field House at UMO!
Hal has been participating in Special Olympics events for years and has always really enjoyed herself, even though she struggles with crowds and the noise involved at times. There have been many years in the past when people would clap and yell for her, and she would stop whatever she was doing..running, shooting a basket, and say, “SHHH! Guys, too loud!” But this year she really enjoyed herself and was happy to have me there. In previous years she’s also struggled with my being there. If she saw me, she’d want to go home. She’d be so freaked out about Mommy and go go go home, she wouldn’t enjoy any of her events, and as a result, there have been years where I hid in various gymnasium bathrooms, locker rooms, janitorial closets and parking lots. True story. Just a stalker-mom and her camera camped out on the roof of a stranger’s Jeep, move along, Bub.
If you guys have never been to a Special Olympics event, you’re missing out. It’s an atmosphere of total acceptance, support and good will. Some athletes are more capable than others, but every last one gets the same cheers (SHHH!) and love. Hal loves feeling part of a team and I got a lot of grins and thumbs up from her.
When Hal participated in her first Special Olympics, I actually had to leave. I was a wreck. I cried myself sick. My little peanut, all dressed in pink, pigtails with pink bows bouncing as she walked..being led around the track in an opening ceremonies parade. Wheelchairs, walkers, canes, some kids being carried by parents or aides. That’s the bitch of autism. There may not be any visible disabilities. She looked just like any other little girl, but… she wasn’t. She was Hal. And while I thought I had come to grips with her diagnoses years before, I obviously hadn’t.
I never missed an event after that. Still haven’t. Some, like I said, are spent less comfortably than others (public bathrooms..gah), but I watch her. I watch her face light up when it’s her turn. I watch her high five athletes from other towns. I watch as her friends cheer her on. I see her look around the gym, find me and smile. Birthday gift…received.