Author’s Note: The following is a guest blog transformed from an email sent to me by Vicki Oren, mother of a Special Olympics athlete in Israel.
Pretty soon in Israel we will celebrate the Jewish New Year -Rosh Ha Shana. I always send out a greeting:
May your life be as sweet as apples dipped in honey! And may we all know peace on earth and goodwill toward all men!
It’s something that just seems out of our reach, waiting to be grasped and pulled to the hearts of us all.
Today in Israel, in the Ber Sheva hospital, where many of the wounded soldiers were treated, a major hospital in the South, 67 babies were born in one day. That was a record breaker for that hospital. At the same time, Israel lost 63 soldiers. And this happening on another day of supposed Cease Fire.
It is certainly a sign of hope and new spirit for the future. But as positive as I want to be and try to be, I think I can predict that those 67 babies will also grow to be soldiers in Israel, as that is how things are over here.
As a parent of a special needs son, I have learned through Mati to see life as a half-filled glass and have accepted graciously and willingly and hopefully, all the “drops” of so many wonderful people and schools, and community, and family, along the way that have filled that glass to the brim.
I have seen miracles happen at Special Olympic events and dreams realized and met the most amazing people in my life. That gives me hope too, that the world is capable of change.
During this month my worries were for my other son Benji, my friend Dan Gordon, and of course all the soldiers and citizens of the South. But during this month, I also received daily updates of the Special Olympics World Games and that brought a smile to my face and filled my heart with hope, even when the news here was so bad. And where we live, in the Jezreal Valley we went about our daily lives and Mati continued to train for Open Water and worked as a lifeguard. Life goes on!
We all have to hang onto the dream of a better world for our children and grandchildren and help make that dream a reality.
The challenges are enormous, but that has never stopped us before. That is also a lesson I have learned with a special needs son. We can take a few steps forward, then sometimes we fall back, but we pick ourselves up and march forward again.
In the middle of this war, my friend Dan Gordon met Daron Almog, and wrote one of his (in my opinion) best stories. Daron could have become the Chief General of the Israeli army, but he retired from the army at the height of his military career, and then went and built an oasis in the desert for special needs individuals. His son was born with extreme special needs, and this hardened General said that the best teacher of his life was his son, and that a society is judged by the way it treats its less fortunate and less able, and that special needs individuals are the purest of all people on earth.
Daron is but one example of the humanity that exists in each of us, in spite of the ugliness of war. Just think what the world could become if there truly was peace on earth and goodwill toward all mankind.
Vicki, Haim and Mati Oren and Family