A Simple ‘Night Out’

A Simple ‘Night Out’

Memorable times often come as surprises. In the midst of an event, you get that feeling that you are lucky to be there. You look around and the moment is richer than everyday experience.  And it grows in quality. For days, for weeks, often much longer, you feel that you were there in an important time and place. As well, it is exciting and wonderful when you know that you may have a chance to recreate that again sometime. I hope you won’t mind if I share a recent surprise time.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to tend the bar for the ‘Dancing with the Advocates’ event that was held at Camp Royall a few weeks ago. Maureen Morrell asked for my help, along with Tracey Sheriff and Paul Wendler. It seemed like a good idea to me: helping open drinks and keeping mothers of children with autism from being thirsty while they visited with each other and had a night together without children. We had a wonderful disc jockey who provided a balance of dance music and karioke that kept the party lively. The room was set with a buffet of snack foods, a bar with drinks and ice, and nicely appointed tables with flowers.  So what experience would these 35 women create when left to be themselves?

In the first couple of hours, I found that alcohol was not a major player in this event. Sodas and water flowed freely as the women danced together to the electric slide, the macarena, the meringue and various group dances. Circle dances and line dances evoked the strongest collective reaction.  The disc jockey followed their lead and offered music that kept them on the floor. As I watched, I saw, first and foremost, that they were enjoying each other, that they were encouraging each other, that they were so positive with each other. These women were joyous as they moved fluidly in dance. A few at a time would show moves they had learned as girls, moves that expressed their vitality. Back and forth, they shared and encouraged each other.

I was reminded that most of these women deal with a level of stress that I cannot understand. They deal with the love of their children, children who they work so hard to reach and to help. Their children provide challenges that exhaust them, that stretch their abilities, that occupy their every waking moment. These courageous women came into this event with smiles and laughter and they danced together. They lifted each others’ spirits.

In a matter of a couple of hours, I was reminded that the human spirit is awesomely wonderful. I felt that the Autism Society should find ways to do this again and again. Can we find ways to give these mothers joy, rest, and at least moments of happiness?  We need to do this more often.

Then Maureen Morrell, Susanne Harris, Linda Griffin and a group of women got up and sang “I Will Survive” and things came together for me. Sure, they have sung this song for years. Sure, the rest of the group swayed and sang, too. A timeless quality going back decades yet going forward for years to come pervaded the song.

I felt pretty small at that moment because I really do not have the courage that I saw in that room that evening.  Yet I knew that we, the supporters and volunteers, must find ways to give those parents whatever measure of happiness and assistance that we can. We must find ways to help our mothers of children with autism. It was simply a ‘night out’ for those women. But that simple ‘night out’ strengthened my conviction that our families deserve whatever support we can provide.

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One Response

  1. Although I was unable to attend what sounds to be a wonderful experience, your comments are heart warming and appreciated. Thank you.

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