West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

Special Blessings

Personal, Kids

Twenty-five years ago, on November 18, 1986, I became a mom. I’m no different than anyone else in that this was a pivotal day in my life. The only thing that makes my first day as a mom different than another mom’s first day is that my son, Andrew, was born severely developmentally disabled. Andrew passed away in 2007 and every year I write about him on or near his birthday. I guess I feel compelled to remember him and to share my story to old and new friends alike. (To read the full story, click here or here.)

Suffice it to say that being the mom of a special needs child is unlike anything you can imagine. I aged about 20 years on that November day in 1986. There are many negative adjectives to describe what we went through, but there are also a lot of positives. How can you explain how a tragedy turns into an abundance of blessings? And each journey of a parent of a special needs child is so very unique. I have several friends with special needs children and I’m always in awe of them and their energy, enthusiasm and larger-than-life love. It inspires me every time I see them.

Andrew was with us for only twenty years, but his impact will be felt by my husband and me and our other children forever.

When Andrew passed away, we gave away a prayer card that had a photo of a flower-filled meadow. My husband said he liked to think of Andrew running around in heaven in such a place, free of the constraints that he had here on earth. On the back of the card was a portion of the famous Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. Today I stumbled upon the full version. It is SO fitting for Andrew’s birthday. Hug your kids and enjoy.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

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