Chillicothe News - Chillicothe, MO
by Antonio Prokup
A Note to my Younger Self
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By Antonio Prokup
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March 16, 2013 5:30 p.m.

Dear Young Self,
Why does one have to fail or experience defeat to learn such valuable lessons? Do you think God was testing us? Sometimes I believe the events of our life were a test, and God was patiently watching, and sometimes I think he placed the event in our life purposely. Either way he was always there with us even though it didn't always seem that way.
Remember the time, young self, in Green Bay? You were so excited to see Green Bay for the first time and to visit your cousins. When your parents left your uncle in charge, they should have known he was not capable of such a task. You sat in the wooded area for such a long time and then your body needed to move, run, or bolt anywhere and so you did---- crossing busy, frightening streets, and then you found peace while swinging on a stranger's swing. You were so scared your parents wouldn't find you, but they did. This uncontrollable energy stays with you throughout your young years, but don't dismay; with each year you get stronger and stronger in order to push back the impulses.
Those impulses were with you again the day you bolted into the middle of a cow herd. You had only one thought in mind, and that was to get to the pond. All you wanted to do was throw rocks in the pond to watch the rippled after-effects, but you neglected to think about the path of choice. And so a new young mother cow comes charging at you to protect her young. You went flying in the air and landed face first into the muddy, manured muck, which probably saved you from real injury. Your mother came running like a crazed mom and frightened the cows away. Only a broken collar bone, but once again impulse led to danger. There will be many more urges in your life, however technology will help limit the number of dangerous outbursts.
Technology brings me to the next momentous event. You were in kindergarten and attending regular class with a personal aide; your cousin Amy Binder. Prior to the age of six you had not communicated with anyone. Through the technology of television, Amy learned of communicating through facilitation. This was a major turning point in your life. Up until then you had been a son, a grandson and a brother but not a person with normal wants and needs. Through facilitation your whole life changes. You become not only a person but a person with a purpose beyond taking up space.
I know if you had what you wanted back then, you would have chosen Amy to be your personal aide for life, but God had other plans. You were unforgiving to the number of aides you had after Amy, and each of them left for one reason or another. Finally, after depleting your sources of qualified aides, your mom took over---temporarily was the plan. However, your school life blossomed the very day she was at your side. And you, blessed young self, will still find her there in the future helping you establish a very respected academic status.
Your life has been full of complications, but you remained happy and hopeful throughout. But no one is ever spared sadness, and yours came too soon and too close together. You lost your maternal grandparents within one year of each other. You were very distraught over losing such an important part of your personal support system. Next to your parents and sister, Grunda and Papa were two of the few people who loved you despite your inability to perform like other children. They loved you completely and you felt that loss deeply. Yes, it happened too soon, and you will miss them always, but on occasion in the quiet of your room you will feel their presence and will know through God, they will never really leave your side.
The year after Grunda and Papa died you had the great pleasure to live in their house for 18 months. Your mom and dad had sold the house on Highway C and were building on the Adams Farm. you were very sad to leave the only house you had ever lived in, but spending 18 months in Grunda and Papa;'s house was a wonderful experience. Your family had always had so much space to escape from each other before, but at Grunda's you were blissfully right by each other's side. You all enjoyed this time of closeness, and this made your transition from familiar to unfamiliar easier. You will fully enjoy your new home and will adapt easily, but I know you were given that blessed year at Grunda's as a present from God.
God continues in your life, of course, to be present always, but the day you made your First Communion he was there with you for the first time when you ate the body of Christ. The day was intended to be beautiful, but unfortunately all of the days events were not. Your mom and you had practiced every little detail that could be thought through, but practicing with the whole congregation was impossible. so when it was your time to receive the body of Christ for the first time, your dad had to carry you to the priest because you would not move. Remember your mom crying after mass? You felt so badly for her, but she didn't understand. Today she has learned so much more about your disability, and between the two of you, you learn to handle uncomfortable situations much better.
One of your very favorite things to do is swim, and that remains true still today. After moving into your new home on the hill on the Adams Farm, your parents decide to buy a large pool, mainly for you. That pool was extremely exciting for you. You learned to swim quickly and spent many, many hours in the pool. Remember the pool parties with family and friends? You always felt so different during those times. Most all the time other children avoid contact with you, but in the pool it is different. In the pool you were able to interact with them, and they in turn were surprised to be interacting with you. The pool was always the place where you were less different and more on an equal level. You will always have the pool in your life, but unfortunately the other friends and family have outgrown the pool. Don't worry, the water is still calming to you and is always a place where you get to be free of your disability.
Being free of your disability is much harder when traveling. In the early days of traveling things were very difficult for you. Car doors had to be chained so you wouldn't bolt out, and then there were child locks. Mama had to bring hot plates to motels to cook your food and then you learned to eat something that didn't require cooking. Finally due to your dad's never ending desire to buy something new, we bought a camper. This one expenditure changed the whole course of travel for you. The number of trips you have taken with your family is too many to mention. But you know none of them would have happened if not for the camping lifestyle. Your family luckily enjoys this mode of travel as well so it is a perfect match---- one of those God orchestrated things I'm sure. The security you feel in the camper allows you to venture out during the day knowing you will feel safe and secure when the day's sightseeing is done. Traveling this way will not change in the future for you, and because of your families willingness to compromise you are able to see sights that most people with your disability don't even dream about.
Everyone has dreams and of course you are no exception. You may have different dreams than most children your age, but I know there are a few that are comparable. One dream you were able to live was not only being on the academic bowl team at your school in Bevier, but actually being able to play. You were so nervous that day when your coach allowed you to play the game. You knew you could help the team if you could only make yourself sit still in the chair. Well, you sat. Not so quietly, but you did sit. The spectators and the other team were truly gracious and kind, and they overlooked your uncontrollable noises. It was hard for you to buzz in on questions faster than everyone else, so you simply waited. Then it happened. A question was asked, and no one knew the answer. You buzzed in, and with facilitation you answered correctly. Not only did your team applaud, but the entire room, as well, including your opponents. The sense of acceptance was great that day. And from that day forward other students have much more respect for you. This respect and acceptance will follow you through your school years. You will be rewarded with awards for your academic achievements but more importantly rewarded with the knowledge that the people in Bevier Public School accept you and recognize you as their equals in the academic world to be equals on any level was one of your dreams come true.
So, young self, whether God placed all of these incidents in our path or not is really irrelevant. These obstacles helped you to become what you are today. and what we have become is a recognized student, a published author and above all a believer--- belief in God of course, but also a belief that He has been with us through it all.
Keep following, I'll be there,
The Older One

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