As a program director for a ministry called Special Gathering, I find myself in the interesting place that I’ve seen the parents and caregivers of our members in for several decades.  I am now a full-time caregiver for a person with a disability.  Yes, my husband has had a disability all our married life.  However, his disability was never a handicap for him or our family.

My husband, Frank, worked hard at not letting the disability that he inherited from his mother limit him.  And by and large, it has not.  He was an Aerospace Technologist for NASA until he retired in 2002.  (They almost had to force him out the door.  He worked his maximum time.)  He rarely missed work.  He had many inventions and innovations within the space industry.  He was known as one of the world’s leading experts in the field of cryogenics. 

He never thought of his having any additional drawbacks.  He was contantly endeavoring to insure that he had as few physical obstacles as possible.  His off-the-charts IQ didn’t hurt him either. 

Because of a small inheritance, we have been able to continually upgrade our home to accommodate his growing physical needs.  Thereby we have been able to minimize his increased weakness and maximize his abilities.  However, his vascular dementia has added an increasing concern for both of us.  He has become increasingly dependant on my physical presence.

I still work full-time with The Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our sole mission is to evangelize and disciple people who are intellectually delayed.  However, in my position as area director, I have a flexible schedule that allows me to do much of my work in my home office.  Computers, Internet access and cell phones are amazing wonders that make any office job as mobile as you want it to be.  Yet, I find myself needing time away.

In February I’ll be going on a cruise with the Special Gathering program director.  She is taking three or four of her members on a Disney cruise.  They will be sailing from Cape Canaveral which is 20 miles from my office.  Recently, people have said, “Why are you doing that?  You need to really get away.  Not go with some of your members.  That isn’t a rest for you.”

Actually, it is.  I will be rooming with our SC program director.  She will be in charge of her members–not me.  I’ll be able to enjoy them, without having the responsibility of their care.  What could be better?

You see, of all the people I’ve ever met, I think I enjoy teenagers (especially junior highs) and mentally challenged people the best.  They are playful, unassuming, grateful and easy to please.  Of course, they are also people and they can be prima donas and bullies.  They can pitch fits and work the system.  But their lack of sophistication and child-like desire to please limits their ability to hold a grudge or pout for years and years. 

All in all, the mentally challenged population is a group of amiable and pleasant adults who like to have fun, shop and eat.  What better group could you vacation with?

Do you find your members to be fun or a burden?  What do you enjoy about your members?  What do you not enjoy about your members?