Emily Weaver

A Special Life


A bloke is showing two young American girls around London and they come to a Pelican crossing. He presses the button and the pedestrian signal goes 'bleep-bleep-bleep-bleep....' 'What's that for?' asked one of the girls. 'Oh that's just to let the blind know that the lights have changed' said the bloke. 'My Gaad' she said, really shocked, 'in the States we don't even let them drive...'

John John

John John

It always seemed strange to me to give your son a first name the same as his surname and because  John John was just a distant acquaintance, I never got to know the reason why.

It was through my childhood and early teens, between eight and fifteen years, that I knew John, after that I spent more time away from my hometown and our paths ceased to cross.

In those days, the mid fifties to early sixties, the world was a much bigger place and most people didn’t travel far. Many tended to remain in or near their hometown for the rest of their lives, so local people were more important to us and each character represented the world as we knew it.

Sadly, it was an age when people with handicaps and disabilities were not accepted as readily as they are today, mainly due to ignorance and a lack of recognition that human differences are a natural consequence of life. It was of course difficult to acknowledge, especially for us kids, because the majority of people with handicaps were then institutionalised and so we feared anyone who was different because we were not used to seeing them. Thankfully, now the world is a much more understanding and kinder place in this regard, especially for people like John.

You see, John John was a Downs Syndrome child and with more challenges than most because John’s mother died and his father was blind.

John was physically big and I remember we were often frightened as kids when we used to go to the Saturday Matinee and he would stand intimidatingly at the entrance like a Commissionaire! Oh, how I wish we had been better informed and educated about such issues then; I’m sure John would have enjoyed many more friendships and support if people had realised the challenges he faced and the quality inside this gentle giant.

As I grew older I tried to understand. I often watched John with interest and admiration and I was pleased with myself that I was beginning to understand the true nature of John without listening to the opinions of others. Yet, to me, John was still a distant acquaintance to whom I would say ‘hello’ but rarely more than that. Little did I know then that one day I would be fortunate to fully understand and appreciate the needs of someone with special needs from the parental experience (yes…fortunate).

From his early teens onward you would only ever see John with his father, arm in arm on the street corner watching the world go by; father and son supporting each other in a way that few father and son relationships would ever evolve. His father had abilities that John did not. John’s father was able to help John with experience and advice and John in turn gave his father a level of independence that few blind people get. John was his father’s eyes.

Often you’d find John giving his father a running commentary on what was going on around them and they both seemed to thoroughly enjoy being out and about. People would stop to chat and even before they approached John would say ‘here comes so-and-so.’ It surprised me one day when I heard him say; ‘It’s John Weaver Dad’ as I didn’t realise he knew my name. From that moment I took every opportunity to stop and chat and soon learned some important lessons, lessons that have stood me in good stead in caring for Emily and in my understanding of all people with special needs. People with Downs Syndrome are among the most kindly and loving people in the world.

To those who merely watched John and his father the situation appeared unfortunate, but for those who thought more deeply there came a realisation that John’s handicap and his kind and loving nature, were in many ways a blessing to his father and indeed to John himself. Another child, son or daughter, less disadvantaged would probably have married and built new relationships and possibly moved away. But because of his situation and very nature, John was happy and his love and support for his father came naturally, it was all he knew and they were content.

I moved away from my hometown and the years passed by. I heard that John’s father had died but I never knew what happened to John. I got married and had two healthy children. Then we had Emily with her own disabilities and over the years and increasingly more recently, my thoughts have often wandered to the life of John John.

I have no doubts that people would have commented about John and his father with words such as ‘there can’t be a God for such things to happen.’ I know, because people have said similar things about Emily and her circumstances.

But the special lives of John and his father actually strengthen my faith. John was the greatest gift his father could have had; the purpose and reason for his personality shines through like a beacon of truth.

God certainly works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.

This story about John is not simply an observation of someone I knew, it is also a recognition that far from being a fate of nature there is a very real and important reason and a purpose in life for people like John.


Happiness is an appreciation of what you've already got.

Not what you want, not what you need, not what you deserve, not what you aspire to...but what you've already got.

See, that's why so many people are unhappy; they think the thing needed to bring them happiness is yet to come to them. They don't realise that no matter what their circumstances are, happiness can immediately be theirs if they so choose, because happiness is basically a matter of choice. Someone who has nothing can be happy, whilst someone who has everything can be unhappy. Regardless of who, what or where you are, you can be happy if you choose to be.

When you are depressed, feeling a bit fed up and sorry for yourself, try this: S M I L E.

As you form a broad smile, think of good things and happy times that you've had. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself and envying those people who seem to have more money, more luck and better health than you have - look at those who are worse off than you (and there are more of them around), and be grateful for your good fortune.

The more you take this approach, the happier you will become. And because happiness is contagious you can help others just by being happy. Happiness breeds happiness so just start the 'happy' ball rolling and it will gather more of the same. Being happy or being unhappy, is just a state of mind.



The Secret to Happiness

Just Thinking...


“Even though our journey as parents of a medically fragile child began with emotional turmoil, it has since become a purposeful odyssey that brings meaning and depth to our lives. This is the road we were born to travel.”

― Charisse Montgomery

"Emily has a cruel sense of humour: She laughs at those more fortunate than herself." -JW