This was a story that I was unsure about sharing as it is a fairly complicated situation.
I have just come back from a short Retreat and while I was there I got speaking to a friend who is a cello player.
She told me the story of how she had worked with a young woman also with Cerebral Palsy. They created a dance routine with music.
So I decided to write about it.
One of the most prolific woodturner’s that I ever had the pleasure of teaching was a young woman
She has Cerebral Palsy along with a few other problems.
I was approached by a group who deal with adults that have a learning disability. Which I can assure you was not the case with her. However it is common to put people into this category, mainly due to lack of communication.
When I met her at first I was very doubtful that she would manage. However she was persuasive and along with Gordon’s vote I decided to give her a try at the lathe.
I phoned her Dad to get some more details and he asked if I would mind not letting her bring “The Rubbish” she makes home with her. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. He explained that over the years she had been doing many crafts and the items she had made were of a bad quality. She had even went on a jewellery making course costing a few thousand pounds only to return with necklaces made with string and macaroni painted.
It was turning with three hands Gordon supplying the third from behind the lathe.
The first day she came with a list of people she wanted to make Christmas presents for. She was a lot more confident than I was. So we began going through her list and even helped her wrap the presents.
Well she made all the presents on her list. Not the most complex projects but all well finished. The star present was a baton for her Dad to use when he went fishing.
So Christmas day I got a phone call from her Dad. He could not stop apologising for his previous statement. All I said to him was that the apology should be for his wonderful daughter. Don’t misunderstand; this was a wonderful man who had to take early retirement from the Police to care for his wife and daughter. Both being in wheelchairs.
She came every Wednesday morning for over a year. She went on to another project that I would find out about later.
We got an invitation to be guests of honour at her open day. When we got there we were amazed to see two tables of the turned items that she had made.
The surprise for us on the day was the reading of some of her poetry. This had been her latest project. It was read out by her with some help from her carer. It was wonderful.
The one other condition that she had that no one had told us about was that she was registered as being blind. She could only see about a foot in front of her. Which was why she sat so close to the lathe and was doing a lot by touch and that had been the main reason for needing a third hand.
She now has her own house, which is like a supported accommodation with her own carers 24/7. It is in the same village that I live in. She keeps in touch and tells us of her other projects. I have to say that I learned a lot from her. She had so much guts and never let things get her down nor did she ever complain. She also has a wonderful big smile. I love my job.
One other thing, I like to make sure that what anyone makes is of a good quality. I don’t want people saying something is nice out of sympathy. If some thing goes wrong, it goes into the fire and we start again with a fresh piece and the secrets are just ash. I’ve a couple of list of woodturning projects and offer the list like a menu, so that the person can choose from items that are within their capabilities. Over the years though many students have surpassed me, which is the extra bonus you get for sharing.
I hope this all makes sense and that I’ve not missed anything.
4:30am in a dark and crisp Scotland
-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe