Does Your Personality Change If You Become Disabled?

A person holding a card with a question mark in front of their faceI was out with a friend last week who takes a healthy interest in exactly what makes people tick. She didn’t know me earlier in life, when I could see, and said she couldn’t help but wonder. “Do you think your personality changed when you went blind?”

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t find the question offensive, I just didn’t have an answer. “You should ask Mike!” I laughed, joking that he’d probably know better than I would—Mike and I celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this year, and I lost my sight a year after we got married.

The question has been on my mind off and on since then. What does personality mean, exactly? Does “funny” count as a personality? Does “fearful”?

Years ago a reporter at a lighthearted event I spoke at discovered that a friend in the audience had known me most of my life. “Was Beth funny when she could see?” he asked her. “Or did she get a sense of humor after she lost her sight?” The sister who is closest to me in age marvels at my ability to get around on my own in Chicago. “You were scared of everything when we were little, “ she says, describing a time she tried teaching me to ice skate backwards. “You wouldn’t even try, and now look at you.”

My friend told the reporter I was always funny in high school. That means my personality didn’t change. My sister says I’m fearless now. So maybe my personality did change.

Happy, sad, impatient, shy, fearful, curious, helpful. What characteristics describe your personality? Maybe it’s in the eye of the beholder.

And then there’s that study comparing lottery winners with accident victims. Shortly after the Illinois State Lottery started in the 70s, psychologists from Northwestern University published a study called “Lottery Winners and Accident Victims: Is Happiness Relative?

The researchers asked 22 winners to rate their happiness months after the initial elation of winning the big bucks. In addition, they asked the winners how much pleasure they were taking in mundane activities like reading a magazine or meeting friends for coffee. Then they interviewed people who lived in the same neighborhoods as the winners but hadn’t won the lottery. The results showed that months after the winners were announced, the non-winners were just about as happy as the lottery winners. The so-called losers were finding much more pleasure in everyday activities than the winners were.

The researchers also interviewed people who were paralyzed in accidents that same lottery year. Their research found that after initial sadness, the people who were paralyzed rated their pleasure in everyday activities slightly higher than that of the lottery winners. Their life satisfaction was nearly the same.

That study makes a lot of sense to me.

It’s Wednesday. I listened to NPR while I finished the cup of coffee Mike made for me this morning. Once I was done, I flipped on my talking computer, sent out a few messages, helped a writer in one of the memoir-writing classes I teach send a manuscript out to a potential publisher.

That done, I collected myself, put on a raincoat, buckled my Seeing Eye dog Whitney into her harness, and we headed out to the bank. Two of my sisters are visiting this weekend, which means a lot of eating out, hearing live music, catching the train to the suburbs to visit family there, checking out some museums – I’ll need some cash!

It stopped raining while we were out, so Whitney and I took the long way home, listened for birds, and smelled the lilacs.

Back here in the apartment, I’ve been spending the past couple hours on my job for Easterseals, including writing this post! Then time to shower, dress, check to make sure everything I need is in my bag, and head downtown to lead my memoir-writing class.

I’ll feed Whitney when we get back, then maybe listen to a book while I get ready for the happy conclusion to the day: we’re heading to the Gene Siskel Film Center to see Amazing Grace, a documentary about Aretha Franklin.

So did my personality change when I became disabled? I will say this: the way I move through space has changed, and the way I take things in has changed – I use my ears, my sense of smell and my sense of touch instead of my eyes. Does “active” count as a personality? I was active when I was young, and I’m still active now. As Aretha would say, “Rock Steady!”

 

The Problem with Disability Representation on America’s Got Talent

Recently, I started a vlog on YouTube sharing my disabled self with my viewers. It is empowering for me to express who I am unabashedly and under my own terms. Even though I can’t physically take the videos myself, I have full control over direction, editing, and scripting. Disabled people rarely have this control in mainstream media, though. Our stories, even on reality shows, are often filtered through an abled and frequently ableist lens.

Even when media interviews or features actual disabled people, or consults with us, we are still edited by someone who is probably not disabled themselves. Last week, America’s Got Talent contestant Kodi Lee, who is blind and autistic, shared his amazing talents with the audience. There is no denying he deserved all the “yes” votes from the judges. In an interview after the show, Kodi expressed his excitement at receiving the honor and how he hopes to perform for millions more.

Seeing a disabled person on TV achieving goals is always a good thing. It’s important to see people like you represented and celebrated rather than ignored or demeaned.

So why did the AGT clip of Kodi’s experience not sit right with me, or with numerous other disabled advocates? For many of us, we just want others to view our full selves – as people with talents who are also disabled, rather than talented “despite” our disabilities. We shouldn’t be reduced to feel-good stories when we share our talents. We shouldn’t be met with tears of pity or surprise and “aww” moments when we take center stage. We should be judged the same as abled performers.

I don’t know Kodi’s thoughts about how the show portrayed him. I just wanted him to know that he has value and worth for simply existing, and his talents showed us his heart in the similar way Mariah Carey singing “Hero” makes me tear up.

Some singers show you their soul through their vocals and Kodi has done that. His disabilities have shaped who he is and influence his artistry. He’s not “overcoming” his disabilities when he performs – he is showing them to us alongside his music. And that is a more powerful narrative the show could have pushed rather than the trite saccharine of inspiration. We can and should celebrate disability, not avoid it.

We need more disabled producers, directors, editors, and writers behind the scenes to avoid these tropes. Telling our own stories ensures we are seeing the whole person rather than what abled people want to see or what they expect. Sharing myself on YouTube and seeing other disabled creators on the platform helps disrupt the stereotypes and stigma of disability. I hope, one day, Kodi gets to share his story in his own way too.

 

Parents of a Child With Spina Bifida Bought a Pub. This Is What They Did With It.

a cozy pub with wooden tableI subscribe to a podcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) called Ouch. It features BBC journalists with disabilities who bring their personal experiences to the table, and it can be downright charming to hear them talk about disability in their lovely British and Irish accents. It’s intriguing, too, to hear how British and Irish laws regarding disability sometimes differ from ours here in the United States.

I was all ears last week when BBC reporter Emma Tracey interviewed Kerry Mathie, whose 12-year-old son has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. “Ben is absolutely fanatical about live music, he loves concerts and things,” said Mathie, adding that venues in England are often upstairs. “We struggle to go to concerts with him being in a wheelchair.”

Many venues won’t allow a 12-year-old inside, either, but local pubs are different. Ben has been going to a neighborhood pub with his parents and brothers and sisters to hear live music for years now, but when that pub went up for sale, plans were in the works to destroy it. “It was our local pub anyway, but it was being sold to building executives and they were going to knock it down and build whatever, flats and things,” Kerry told the BBC, noting that they’d never owned a business like that before. “We didn’t want Ben to miss out. It’s his passion, we’ve been going to this pub ever since he was about six or seven to listen to the live music and we just wanted to carry it on, so when we were given the opportunity to take on the pub ourselves, we jumped at it.”

You read that right. Ben’s parents bought the pub.

The Harrow Inn Free House is located in Boughton in Nottinghamshire, and Ben works there as the pub’s entertainment manager. “It’s something he’s going to do when he’s older, too,” his mom said.

Journalist Emma Tracy got Ben on the phone and when she asked him what an entertainment manager does, I swear, you could hear the 12-year-old shrug. “Sorts out what we have every weekend.” When she asked whether he uses social media to learn about new bands, Ben’s mother piped up. “Yeah, he goes on to mine or his dad’s Facebook, because he’s too young to have social media, and he will have a look and see local bands.” Kerry’s mum took over for a bit then, directing the next questions to her son. “Don’t you? You listen to them?”

Again, you can hear the shrug in his answer. “Just watch them on Facebook and that,” he says. “I message them.”

The lilt in Kerry’s voice during the podcast tells me that (outside of his job at the pub) she regards her son’s attitude as that of a typical 12-year-old. “It’s not just for Ben, it’s for the rest of our children as well, and for families in the area,” she says, crediting simple things they do to make the pub welcoming to all.

“Making sure that there’s plenty of room to get round tables, making sure that they can get to the bar, and just the general persona. You know, you just treat everybody the same,” she says. “It’s getting round word of mouth, not only are we wheelchair friendly, but we are accessible to everybody. Everybody is welcome, it’s as simple as that.”

 

On Self-Defense: I Won’t Let Fear Get in the Way

two students stretch their arms in a martial arts class Reports show that Americans with disabilities are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than average folks out there. All sorts of reasons have been given to explain why this might be. Maybe it has something to do with the high unemployment rate among people with disabilities. That can leave people with disabilities more likely to be economically disadvantaged, and, in turn, more vulnerable to crime. And then there’s this: if a bad guy is looking for someone to rob or attack –or both – a person with a disability might be more appealing. A person who has difficulty communicating, for example, might have more trouble reporting the crime. And a person like me, who can’t see, might have a difficult time running away at full speed.

Learning all this, I was happy to hear that a story on Worcester News Tonight last week highlighted an ongoing Martial Arts Self-Defense course offered by Easterseals Massachusetts to address these issues – and more.

The Easterseals Massachusetts Accessible Martial Arts Program is for people who not only want to practice self-defense, but also want to learn stretching, exercise, and relaxation techniques. The program is open to people with and without disabilities, and as the news segment shows, it provides a good opportunity for socialization, too.

I myself have never been the victim of a violent attack –knock on wood – but I was pickpocketed on a busy Chicago sidewalk a few summers ago. I was with friends, using my white cane. My purse was at my hip and the straps were across my shoulder. We were in a crowd of people waiting at an intersection for the light to turn green, so when I felt a slight push at my hip I thought nothing of it. When we arrived at our destination, I reached into my bag. No wallet.

I have to believe the pickpockets singled me out because of my blindness. I was angry at myself for not turning around, checking my bag or telling the sighted friends with me that I felt that push in the crowd. Angry at the robber, too, but grateful they didn’t assault me.

I don’t want fear of being robbed or attacked to make me afraid to leave home. Fear of leaving home would restrict physical activity, which I know can lead to poor health, and often, depression. I would guess that people who learn skills to help protect themselves might discover that learning those new skills helps them get over all sorts of other fears, too. Maybe I’ll give martial arts a try.

 

Gyms and Fitness Centers are Called to Make Exercise Accessible to All

Swimming poolI swim for exercise. My Seeing Eye dog Whitney guides me to the pool, and the only stroke I do is the crawl. One arm or another is extended in front at all times, protecting me from crashing my head into the wall at the end of each lap. Tapping the lane marker on every other stroke keeps me swimming straight.

I’ve been swimming for decades now. I like going back and forth in space by myself in water. It’s kind of calming, and swimming is good cardiac exercise. I knew strength-training was important, too, and the place I swim at offers a room full of exercise machines for members to use. Only problem? I could never figure out a way to memorize which button or lever to push to get each machine going. Without being able to see, it was difficult to know how to adjust the weights. I could have worked out with a friend, I guess, but I kind of like to work out when it fits into my schedule. I don’t want to always rely on a staff worker or a friend to help me – I like to exercise by myself.

I thought I’d solved this problem when I found an audio book that explained how to use free weights at home, but without being able to watch myself in the mirror, I couldn’t see how poor my form was, and I ended up with a rotator cuff injury.

Baseball fans know about the rotator cuff – it’s at the shoulder joint, a tender spot for pitchers. It turns out rotator cuff injuries are common in any sport requiring repeated overhead arm movements. Tennis, for example. And improper weightlifting. After a year of physical therapy, my shoulder was healed. And I haven’t lifted a weight since.

That’s why I’m excited to hear that Senators Duckworth (IL), Casey (PA), and Blumenthal (CT) have reintroduced the Exercise and Fitness for All Act. If passed, this bill will create standards for exercise equipment to make fitness facilities across America more accessible for those of us with disabilities. From a press release announcing the bill:

The Exercise and Fitness for All Act would establish new federal guidelines to help ensure people with disabilities have the same opportunity to use fitness facilities as their able-bodied peers, and it would allow small businesses to use the Disabled Access Tax Credit to help cover the purchase of accessible exercise equipment.

Senator Duckworth, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, has completed four marathons since she lost her right leg near the hip and her left leg below the knee from injuries sustained on November 12, 2004, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents. “No one should be denied the ability to lead a healthy lifestyle because they have a disability, but many exercise gyms and fitness facilities across our country are not accessible for people with disabilities and do not comply with federal rules,” Duckworth said. “I know firsthand how frustrating this problem is. This legislation will help reduce the barriers that prevent many Americans from accessing gyms across our country.”

Under current rules issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), fitness facilities are required to meet basic accessible design standards, such as providing sufficient space next to each type of exercise equipment so a person in a wheelchair can use it. However, many fitness facilities do not currently meet these standards. The Exercise and Fitness for All Act will help many facilities upgrade their facilities to comply with the law – and it would require the U.S. Access Board, a federal agency that promotes accessibility, to issue updated guidelines specifying the numbers of and types of accessible equipment facilities should have.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the inaccessibility of many fitness facilities create barriers for those with a disability to exercise due to the lack of accessible space and equipment.

I hope this bill passes soon – I’m pumped to start lifting again!

 

Why do Uber and Lyft think they don’t have to pick up passengers with disabilities?

taxi-minivanBack in 2014 the Chicago Tribune published an op-ed piece I wrote that was titled “Should ride-sharing services adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act?” Five years have passed, and Lyft and Uber still claim they don’t have to follow ADA guidelines.

A story in Politico last week reports that Lyft is fighting a federal class action lawsuit filed in New York’s Westchester County on the grounds that “it is not in the transportation business.”

Ahead of its public offering, Lyft acknowledged it has been involved in legal battles about its ongoing refusal to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. From The Politico story :

“For a company that says they want to do the right thing — they should do the right thing,” said attorney Jeremiah Lee Frei-Pearson, who is representing the plaintiffs in the New York class action lawsuit. “Not serving people with disabilities is very inconsistent with the public message that Lyft wants to send as being an inclusive and progressive company.”

Suits have been filed against Uber, too, and Uber also maintains that its drivers do not have to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Attorney Frei-Pearson told Politico that he and his colleagues have been reluctant to sue Uber at the same time they bring up this case against Lyft because of all the other other national litigation against Uber.

The Politico story says, “Lyft continues to bill itself as a better-behaved version of arch-rival Uber,” and Campbell Matthews, a spokesperson for Lyft, wrote in an emailed statement to Politico that “We think about accessibility broadly and know that many who were previously underserved by transit and taxis are now able to rely on Lyft for convenient and affordable rides.”

So does that mean it’s okay to refuse riders with disabilities? The ADA says “public transportation authorities may not discriminate against people with disabilities in the provision of their services,” but Uber and Lyft identify themselves as technology companies — not transportation companies. The drivers are independent, they drive their own vehicles, so Uber and Lyft feel they are not required to provide ADA-mandated vehicles and rides.

I try to avoid using ridesharing companies on principle and have only taken about a dozen rides on Uber and Lyft over the years. Only one driver refused to take me with my service dog, and that was a Lyft driver. Without the law on my side, my only recourse was to call another driver and hope they’d take me. It all makes me feel unworthy.

Whenever possible, I ride in a registered cab rather than using a ridesharing service. Cabs that are registered are part of a public transportation authority, registered cab drivers go through a lot of training to get their cab licenses, they are professional drivers, they know where they’re going, and when I call for a ride, I have the law on my side: the ADA prohibits public transit authorities from discriminating against people with disabilities in the provision of their services. And then there’s this: I tip well!

Now, that doesn’t guarantee that registered cab drivers will pick me up with my Seeing Eye dog, but it does guarantee I have recourse. When we moved to Chicago in 2003 I filed formal complaints with the City of Chicago after two separate cab drivers refused to take me with my Seeing Eye dog. Both drivers had their license revoked for a month, and both were fined. I haven’t been refused a ride from a registered cab for years. I think that’s because they know the law.

I get the utility of Uber and Lyft. Especially outside of major cities and downtowns. But, by all accounts, they cut every corner they can. So whenever possible, I’ll cut them out, too.

 

What’s Worse: Bad Disability Representation or No Representation?

Is it better to have no representation or bad representation of disability in film? For me, they are almost one-in-the-same. With bad representation, it is exhausting to educate people repeatedly that what they saw on screen does not reflect an authentic disability experience. That we still build communities and foster relationships when society tries to isolate us. And when movies like Me Before You make the case that we are better off dead, I would rather the film did not exist in the first place.

Bad representation leads to misconceptions and everyday ableism, which can eventually influence policy and human rights. It actively harms one’s psyche and sense of self-worth. To witness a caricature of yourself that is played off as a joke, or represents horror, or stands in for the audience’s worst fears – you leave the theater deflated.

But no representation is erasure and it also leads to misconceptions and ableism. Not having us on screen is like saying we don’t exist – or that we shouldn’t exist. It’s othering, it’s disturbing, and it doesn’t reflect what society looks like.

Disability in Film event May 16th at 6:30pm EST

My favorite genre of film and TV is space-based science fiction. It’s important that I see disabled people flying spaceships or living on a space station because it means ableism didn’t win and the innate diversity of humanity flourished. And it doesn’t have to be my specific disability portrayed on screen to make me feel represented and present – knowing that the script writers or the showrunners want any disability in their vision of the future gives me hope that our efforts toward 100% inclusion prevailed.

But it’s not enough that disabled people are on screen – we should be in the writer’s room, filming from behind the camera, and leading as directors or producers. The Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, a weekend-long filmmaking contest, aims to fulfill this underrepresented community. The film challenge “provides a platform for new voices in the entertainment industry…[where] winners receive invaluable access to entertainment professionals, opening the door to an industry notoriously difficult to enter.” This event features people with different disabilities taking on various roles in the filmmaking process and shows that we are more than capable of telling our own stories.

This Thursday, Easterseals Thrive is hosting a virtual meetup for disabled women to discuss disability in film and why representation matters. We’ll also watch and share our thoughts on the winning entry from the Disability Film Challenge. To join the event, please visit the official event website to RSVP. Hope to see you there!

 

The Waters of Life May Change, but a Mother’s Love is Constant

a young girl in a wheelchair laughing with her mom

Elena and her mother, Rosa.

I started taking swimming classes at the local YMCA when I was six months old, and those lessons continued throughout my childhood. When I graduated to the “big pool,” the water was much colder and I spent most of my time shivering, complaining, and wanting to get out.

So, one of my favorite childhood memories of my own mother was when she would stand at the end of the shower and hold open a fresh towel and greet me with a huge smile. I’d scamper over to her, and she would hug me with a dry soft towel and keep hugging me until I warmed up.

Thirty years later, I still remember how loved and protected I felt in my mother’s arms. As I witness my own wife, Rosa, serve as her role as mother to Elena, who is non-verbal and non ambulatory, I see similar acts of simple daily love and care for our daughter.

As I am writing this right now, my wife and my daughter are both snuggled together sleeping on the couch. It’s truly beautiful, and I hope our daughter Elena remembers loving experiences such as this for the next thirty years.

I have to be honest with you, though. It’s not always that simple. Life is seldom this peaceful. My wife spends countless hours going to medical appointments and physical therapy with Elena, ordering prescriptions, administering between three and five medications three times each day, lifting, bathing, cleaning, feeding, entertaining, and worrying. These two are currently napping on the couch, but it wasn’t that long ago they were both napping in a hospital bed.

Elena was hospitalized a little over a year ago, and Rosa was by her side for two months comforting her, attentively listening to the medical team, and simultaneously emailing colleagues in the Spanish department where she teaches so that her high school students could stay on track.

Indeed, both Elena and Rosa are impressive in their own right, and although being a parent is incredibly frustrating, exhausting and full of worry, it’s also beautiful. Our daughter is a joy to be around and I know that she feels just as loved as I did when I was wrapped up in a towel in my own mother’s arms.

So, when people ask me if we are going to do anything for mother’s day like brunch or have people over, the answer is always a “no.” To show our love on Mother’s Day, Elena and I will leave mommy alone in the hopes that she can nap, read a book, or just enjoy peace and quiet. Regardless of how Rosa spends her mother’s day, Elena and I want her to know how thankful we both are that she is in our lives.

 

I’m Giving Out Four Times the Love this Mother’s Day

Remember the 9-year-old who wrote a post here for Valentine’s Day years ago about how much she loves her Dad? DJ Mermaid (her pen name) is a seventh-grader and goes by her real name now. Here she is with a guest post for Mother’s Day.

by Anja Hermann

DJ Mermaid and her mom

Anja and her mom

My name is Anja Korovesis Herrman. I am a 7th grader with a physical disability. I am 12 years old. My hobbies/ obsessions include: Advocating for people with disabilities, reading 24/7 and playing The Sims 4. My favorite books include Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” and E.B White’s” Charlotte’s Web” and “The Trumpet of the Swan”. I also enjoy planning my 2044 Presidential Campaign (Vote Anja!), knitting, swimming and horseback riding. In addition to the other activities, I rock climb and am a new member of disability rights group ADAPT. This Mother’s Day, I would like to give a shoutout to my mother times four: My aunt, my nama, my mom and my grandma. All of these women are great people who lift up and support me.

Mom is my disability warrior and partner in crime. How the heck would I survive school without you? I probably wouldn’t. I love you and am immensely proud to be your daughter. I would like to refer to you as Deana X for all the amazing civil rights work you do.

Nama, you are my cooking companion and I get most of my music tastes from you. The drive to horseback riding would be so BORING without some Carole King. I hope I’ll someday be able to make as good biscotti as you and carry on the Greco tradition. I just ask that you write the recipe down and don’t pull a Grandma G (i.e“forget” an ingredient just to make it different each time).

Auntie, fellow panda lover, Sound of Music buff and connoisseur of comfy beds, you are my SuperAunt (trademark pending). I go to you when I want to watch old 80’s classics. To this day, the time I was in 2nd grade and was 7 and ill, and you brought over Adventures in Babysitting? It goes down as one of the best sick days in history. You are not a mom, but I hope you will be soon!

Grandma, you taught me about tea parties and the awesomeness that is not just using an electric mixer: it’s kneading with friends. Within your list of secrets, please let me know how you frost your cookies so prettily. Do you have a formula you are not letting me in on?

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

 

My Dedication To a Mom Who Has Touched 10,000 Lives

I am delighted to have guest blogger Steve Ferkau here today with the first of many Mother’s Day posts we’ll be publishing this week. Once on the verge of death from cystic fibrosis, Steve is now a double lung and kidney transplant survivor.

by Steve Ferkau

For nearly 60 years now, my Mom has been one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. She’s watched me keep the upper-hand on cystic fibrosis, then watched cystic fibrosis slowly gain the upper-hand on me — then she rejoiced when a beautiful person and family gave me two new lungs.

She always loved pinning people with “Donate Life” lapel pins, and she was never satisfied with just giving them a pin — she’d tell them a story. She’d describe her son struggling — and she’d tell them about a beautiful girl from Iowa who saved his life. I am that son, and if I was anywhere near her when she WAS telling this story, she’d pull me over and introduce me.

She always wanted to write that beautiful girl’s Mom a letter, but she’d cry anytime she thought about it. That Mom lost a precious and beautiful daughter, but because of her and them, my mom didn’t lose her son.

Over the years my mother has probably touched over 10,000 lives with her story. I know that the Illinois Organ Procurement Organization Gift of Hope had given her over 10,000 pins — and they’re all gone.

Mom is 87 years old now. She’s wading through dementia and doesn’t quite remember my new lungs or the struggles she helped me get through during the first half of my life. I’ve had that beautiful Iowa girl’s lungs for 19 years. Mom knows me and my siblings 95% of the time, and of course I am the self-declared favorite child.

Mom had long been known for folding copies of Robert Test’s poem “To Remember Me” and including it in cards and letters. Here’s an excerpt:

Excerpt of To Remember Me by Robert Test

At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped. When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my “deathbed.” Call it my “bed of life,” and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives…If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses, and all my prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil. Give my soul to God. If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.

I know a beautiful girl from Iowa who will live forever. And I know a couple of Moms (and Dads) from Illinois and Iowa who will live forever in my heart. Happy Mother’s day to all.