Monday, November 29, 2010

From Bad Experience to Blessed Existence

I think I have blogged enough in September about Doah's rape experience that everyone is aware of what happened then. (If not, see Time to Quander.) What has happened since, though, I have mentioned less frequently and in less depth because things rolled out slowly, over time, to the point where they are now.

Initially, we brought Doah back to our home. Because he is severely allergic to our cats and cannot sleep where they are present, we made him a guest room outside -- in a backyard tent. He loved it, especially since he was the one who had talked a store manager into selling it to us at considerable discount a few weeks earlier. San Ignatio is a perfectly safe and always warm little town, so, except on checking on him occasionally throughout the evening and night and hearing his comfortable snoring, we had a temporary solution that worked for everyone.

In San Ignatio, everyone rallied to Doah's defense and support. Fr. E spent time talking to him. The Sisters of Atonement whose convent is located in San Ignatio showered him with love and kindness. (The picture above is of Sr. Delores and Doah at the recent Old Mission Thanksgiving dinner for the entire town of San Ignatio where Doah has helped with cleanup in the past -- as well as for the Old Mission fiesta days in the summer.) Bennie, who works at the Old Mission gift shop had Doah helping him there for a few hours a day to keep him busy while we were looking for a group home for him. Everyone in town seemed to adopt him and take care of him, distracting him from too much dysfunctional reflection on his bad experience.

Then, with the help of the state of California, likely the best state to be in if one has any kind of disability, we found him a wonderful group home in the nearby town where Shane and his family live. In fact, he is about a ten-minute walk from Shane, Lemony, Nathaniel, and Nikolina and a one-minute car hop from them. It seemed ideal. Then, we learned that the owner of the group home was from Russia, and his daughter managed the home. Lizzie visited shortly thereafter. She is about the age of Alex, Evgeny's daughter. So, the four of us and Doah went to lunch. Lizzie and Alex were instant friends, sisters even, lost from us in the excited comparison of the K-12 days in the schools of Moscow. They each knew the locations, behaviors, and customs that the other was talking about. Evgeny, it turned out, has a degree in my field although he is now working in a different field, so we, too, had a great conversation. It is so wonderful having Doah in a place that is just minutes away from us, safe, and where we can speak the language (Russian or English) of the owner. The relationship is entirely different from homes of the post where Doah has lived. Soon, thanks to the intervention and active support of Evgeny, Doah was back to work at Hope in another nearby city, where he had worked as a janitor and order fulfiller (Is there such a word?) when he first went into a group home at the age of 21 and is doing the same now. (In California and perhaps elsewhere, it is very difficult to get the full range of services, including employment, if one is living at home. More important, however, living with other young people has helped Doah feel and be more important and given us the comfort of seeing while we are still alive how Doah will manage when we are not.)

Another added benefit is that Doah can come visit far more often. Every day if he wants to. He can stay overnight if it gets late, but since his home is only 10-15 minutes away, there is rarely a need for that. He comes to Mass with me on Saturday and Sunday. In some ways, he owns this town. Everyone watches out for him, talks to him, treats him kindly, relates to him as another "townie." I mentioned this to the owner of a local gift shop, the former mayor, yesterday, and she replied, "Well, of course, he is a town son. That is just the way this town is." Thank God for places like San Ignatio. Small, humble, kind.

Good from bad. From bad to blessed. Isn't that the way God so often works in our lives? So much gratitude!! How does one express it all??

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