Our gene pool needs a lifeguard

If you follow this blog regularly, you probably have ascertained that my family is pretty important to me (if you don’t follow me regularly, seriously, what’s your problem?) I don’t know who coined the line “Our gene pool needs a lifeguard”, but at some point over the years, it became one of my Mom’s family’s favorite sayings. As you will soon learn, my sister has had her own row to hoe with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My cousins have had their own batch of ailments, and my mom’s big brother Duffy was stricken with polio as a kid. Still and all, his sheer will and determination to overcome his condition has truly made him my hero (there, happy Duff?)


The following is an email sent from Duff to my Mom and Dad about an email he received from my sister. As will soon become very apparent, my sister sees the world through a unique and often confusing (at least to you and me, I’m sure it probably makes perfect sense to her) perspective. This was written in the wake of me deciding to drop out of the Vet Tech program at a local community college. Again, as you will see, somewhere in my sister’s chaotic mind resides a compassionate nun, a drill sergeant, and motivational speaker. And, I assure you, the choice of punctuation, spacing, paragraph breaks and spelling is completely un-doctored. This is all Liz. Enjoy! :

Duff’s message:

This email from Liz is one you should read.  It is especially funny in a
couple of places and especially touching in a couple of others.  I was also
pleased to see that her self-image is soundly intact.

I’m sorry Andy couldn’t succeed at IWCC.  I hope he’ll have more success at
Metro and even more importantly I hope that he doesn’t give up.  Remind him
how I’ve met life’s challenges, such as overcoming the shame I feel when I
look in the mirror and remember that I’m Denny O’Malley’s brother.  My can-do attitude usually inspires the shit out of people.

Love your brother/in-law (this being the format of closing Liz still reverts
to sporadically),

—–Original Message—–
From: Liz Sigler
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 10:54 PM
To: Barb O’Malley; Duff O’Malley
Subject: my conference was great

Duff and Barb,
My conference was great on the 11th through the 13th in Kearney, Nebraska,
and I went down on the 11th and it was great. I went swimming at the Holiday
Inn where I stayed, and it was great, and to dinner. Saturday was
presentations all day, and I went to one on autism, which falls into what I
have, as you know and it was interesting. Saturday night was the banquet,
and music and dancing the rest of the night, and I went swimming for part of
the night also, and it was great. Sunday, was the meeting on chapter reports
and bylaws. The chapter reports were read by all cities of Nebraska, and I
read the chapter report for Omaha. The bylaws were read, and will see if
they pass or will be passed also, as bylaws is a huge thing whether they
will pass, or have passed when it comes to whether they pass, or haven’t
passed, or didn’t pass, and I know how bylaws are about passing, or didn’t
pass, as bylaws make a huge difference on passing. The presentation that was
to be given on personal stories and a video what self advocacy means, wasn’t
presented, since no one was prepared to give it, and most of the year my
self advocacy group worked on this video and personal stories what self
advocacy means to present it, and I don’t know it will be presented at
another conference when everyone is more prepared and has more time to get
it all together to present, or if we’ll try and have an inservice training
on this, and see what happens, and will see if an inservice training
happens, and what happens with this presentation that didn’t get presented
if it even will, or at an inservice training, and will see what happens with
it. If there is an inservice training, I’ll see what will be happening at
it, or what is being done there at it. I came back Sunday afternoon the
13th, and it was great.

Otherwise working, bowling weekly, mentoring with Creighton college
buddies, Honey Sunday on and after November 3, and if you would like one or
more, let me know, and I’ll get yours to you over the holiday, when I get
everyone else’s to them, Creighton games into November, six Wednesdays away
from seeing neurology, and see if I get off the Phenobarbetal, Wednesday,
December 4, which is the Wednesday after Thanksgiving and the first
Wednesday of December I see neurology, and all other things happening as
always! Andy’s school plans have changed recently I heard. School didn’t
work too well for Andy because of the brain injury and short term memory,
and it’s too hard for him, in some parts of the brain that can’t function on
studying, and he’s going to take a class at Metro, and he’s going towards
being a veterinarian’s assistant, and will see how Metro works out for him.
I told him that just because he had the brain injury from the illness that
it  doesn’t mean he can’t succeed and accomplish in anything, and he can
succeed and accomplish things like I can the same, like me, and like
everyone else. I told him to look at the things he succeeded and
accomplished before and after the illness; before the illness he wrote great
articles in the Reader paper that everyone thought were great articles,
after the illness since it’s been 8 1/2 years, he tried school and it didn’t
work. Taking this class at Metro may work better for him, and I told him to
keep trying, and to not give up, and you never know what you will succeed
and accomplish, and he has accomplished and succeeded in more things than he
thinks. I told him that just because I have autism and the language disorder
of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, doesn’t mean I can’t accomplish and
succeed in anything. I’ve served on boards, I have earned awards, I have
read chapter reports, I have given presentations, I tried teaching nursing
home  residents at a nursing home how to use email and earned letters from
all over the United States when I earned my gold award when you were at my
ceremony of it in 1998, I wrote essays for a book and had no idea I would
have written a book, and it turns out I wrote a book, and all the things I
have accomplished and succeeded and what I can succeed and accomplish, since
I’m bright, smart, and intelligent like he is, and I know he can do the same
like me and everyone else of keep trying and see what you succeed and
accomplish, and he said I had some wise words to say, and will see how
this other alternative works since school at Iowa Western didn’t work that
well for him. He let everyone know on facebook that he gave up school, and
everyone gave him comments that he tried school and it didn’t work, and at
least he tried, and a lot of it is caused by the short term memory and brain
injury from the illness, and the brain is different, and it doesn’t
function the way it had before he was sick. He was always great in high
school and college, and his grades were always great! I’ll let you know how
things are mentoring with Creighton college buddies, Creighton games, Honey
Sunday, if Metro is any better for Andy, how I did in bowling, and how all
other things are, and if I know anything with Liz or Kath I’ll let you know
also. I haven’t talked to Liz at all in the past couple months or have heard
from her either, and Kath I talk and have talked to often, and she’s been
well when I talk and have talked to her, and wanted to let you know how my
conference was, and how things are, and Andy’s plans with school have
changed, and will see how it works for him and see if it works any better. I
hope the grandkids and the kids are all well like always, and with school
and all their activities, and watching the grandkids at times.

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