Jajuan Shaw’s win­ning agenda

The Covington News - - OPINION - T. Pat Cavanaugh is the pub­lisher of The News. You can reach him at 770-7876397 or pca­vanaugh@ cov­news.com

Betty Ray Shaw ex­plained to us that chil­dren of autism have their own agenda, and when they get some­thing in their mind that they want to, or think they need to do, that’s what they are go­ing to do.

For her 13-year-old grand­son, Jajuan Shaw, that agenda seems to be win­ning. Win­ning at be­ing a kind grand­son; win­ning at be­ing a star speller; win­ning at be­ing what­ever is typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with a so-called nor­mal child; and win­ning at swim­ming against the top spe­cial ath­letes from the state of Ge­or­gia.

Jajuan Shaw, as de­scribed in our June 6 edi­tion, cur­rently on cov­news.com, crossed the fin­ish line first in the 25- and 50-me­ter swims at the Spe­cial Olympics State Sum­mer Games held at At­lanta’s Emory Univer­sity re­cently. But this young man does not seem to be done win­ning.

Any words to the con­trary could have been scrapped in 2011. That’s when Jajuan had a col­umn pub­lished where he stated in his own words “God has blessed me with so much and my autism will not hold me back.”

Fast for­ward 2 and a half years, and he has de­liv­ered. Jajuan Shaw has had an agenda — to not let his disability hin­der him — and he has stuck to it. For that he is a hero we can look up to. There is no need to let our per­ceived lack of abil­i­ties, gen­der, race, eco­nomic strug­gles, etc. hold us back.

Like Jajuan Shaw, let’s take things one pad­dle, one step and one day at a time, lis­ten­ing and learn­ing, but get­ting to where we want to be.

One of the is­sues fac­ing you if you’re a baby boomer is some­thing that pills and ex­er­cise won’t help. If your par­ents are still alive, they’re still 18-plus years older than you.

My fa­ther is 87. He still is the chap­lain for his lo­cal VFW, has a Meals on Wheels route and has the added re­spon­si­bil­ity of help­ing my mother, who has de­men­tia.

My fa­ther was never a demon­stra­tive in­flu­ence in my life and he never di­rectly dis­ci­plined me, al­though he came close once when I hid the tele­phone bill so that he wouldn’t see that I was mak­ing long dis­tance calls to talk with a young lady I fan­cied. The phone even­tu­ally got cut off. I de­served what­ever I would have got­ten, but he held back.

When I was grow­ing up he worked two jobs and went back to col­lege.

There seems to be a trait that the Great­est Gen­er­a­tion has and that is con­stantly telling sto­ries about their glory days, es­pe­cially when they are with friends or fam­ily. I have heard how my fa­ther won this game or an­other so many times, I could tell the story bet­ter than him.

The sad part about this is that now I find my­self do­ing the same.

I have reached the point in my life that when my fa­ther starts his sto­ries, I just lis­ten and act like I never heard them be­fore. I like to see his smile as he adds a lit­tle bit more fla­vor to each story. I al­ways en­joyed my time with my dad; I still do.

He taught me lessons for my life that I am sure he never re­al­ized he did. He taught me you have to work hard to ac­com­plish what you want in life. He taught me that how­ever you felt fam­ily had be­trayed you or let you down they were still fam­ily.

I am not sure that my fa­ther achieved all the suc­cess he wanted out of life, but his great­est suc­cess was his chil­dren. On this Fa­ther’s Day we, his chil­dren, owe him a lot and we are grate­ful that he is still with us.

My other two fa­ther fig­ures – my Grand­fa­ther Cope and my Grand­fa­ther Cavanaugh – were as dif­fer­ent as night and day.

My grand­fa­ther Cope was from Ten­nessee. He was once a cow­boy in Ari­zona, caught snakes to milk the venom for medicine and served as a white house guard in World War I. All the soldiers had to be a cer­tain height and have a cer­tain de­meanor.

I was al­ways in awe of him. He was in­jured in an ac­ci­dent that caused some is­sues that I never un­der- stood, but he could build any­thing and he wasn’t afraid to tackle any­thing.

My grand­fa­ther Wil­lie Cavanaugh was as pure an Ir­ish­man as you can be. His sar­cas­tic hu­mor drove my mother crazy. He al­ways wore his Ir­ish hat cocked to the right; he was a roofer and tal­ented tin­smith. My fa­ther, when I was young, showed me houses that still had ex­am­ples of his fa­ther’s work.

He and his two broth­ers served in the ser­vice dur­ing WWI.

They were the sub­jects of a big front page story in the Wash­ing­ton Post in 1917 ti­tled “Lo­cal mother sends three of her sons off to war.”

My grand­fa­ther liked his tod­dies and the sto­ries about him passed through the fam­ily are leg­endary.

He al­ways called me and my brother and sis­ters his coun­try cousins. We had to hug him and he al­ways took joy in rub­bing his three-day beard on our faces and then would look at us with a twin­kle in his eye.

In his 70’s he con­tracted prostate cancer and when the doc­tor told him that he would have to re­move his pros­trate I am told that he said no; he wasn’t go­ing to mess up his sex life.

The last­ing good thought that my Grand­fa­ther Wil­lie left me was on one sum­mer evening when I was four. I was sit­ting on the front stoop of his house. He and one of my un­cles I sup­pose were head­ing to the lo­cal tav­ern. I asked him where he was go­ing; he sat down, put his arm around me and pointed to the heav­ens. “Paddy,” he said, “keep look­ing. Pretty soon you will see the moon. Poppa is go­ing to wind it up for you.” I waited with ex­pec­ta­tion and sure enough the moon arose.

To this day I still be­lieve that my Grandpa Wil­lie winds the moon up each night.

I hope to­day, if you can, that you take the time to cel­e­brate your fa­ther and his life, be­cause be­fore you know it he might be gone and all you will have are some great mem­o­ries.

Happy Fa­ther’s Day to all the dads. God knew what he was do­ing when he made your mold.

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