Loving the Unlovable
by Debbie Roome
I heard a Christian radio program a few years ago that changed my life. It caught my attention as it was a discussion about disabled people. My only sibling, Leanne, was born with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome and has multiple physical and mental disabilities. I listened carefully as the radio presenter interviewed the father of a young boy who had a number of problems and was unable to speak. He said that God had showed him that although his son may never say a word, his voice would reach thousands.
I started thinking about Leanne. She can speak but her words are indistinct and people outside of the family find it difficult to understand her. She attends a sheltered workshop once a week and loves to go to church on Sundays. Because of her disabilities, she struggles to get around and will never make a speech or address a crowd.
I tried to imagine how she must feel when people talk over her. Or don’t make eye contact. Or cross to the other side of the mall when they see her. How does it feel to be invisible, undesirable or different? Does she understand when people treat her badly or stare at her?
It was a God moment as I realised I could give Leanne a voice through my writing. She’s been a part of my life as long as I can remember and I know the difficulties and trauma she’s lived through. I also know the way people look at us when we’re out together ... and I understand the impact a disability can have on a family.
Since that day, I’ve written a number of short stories that include a character with a disability. One of those stories is included in Tender Christmas Tales. The title is Good with Numbers and it tells the story of a young man with Down Syndrome. George has been given a job selling Christmas cards in a mall and encounters a few problems on his first day. While George finds a solution to his difficulties, so many other ‘Georges’ don’t.
I know that my writing about disabled people has touched many hearts and I like to think that when God weighs my words one day, the credit will go to Leanne. That although she cannot speak effectively, her voice will have reached many thousands.
Debbie Roome was born and raised in Africa and moved to New Zealand in 2006. Writing has been her passion since she was six years old, andshe now works at it full time. Her first novel, Embracing Change, was released in 2010 and she is currently working on a second book. She also has stories in a number of anthologies and over 500 articles on various websites. In the last few years, Debbie has received a number of awards for her writing as well as placing in many competitions.
Debbie offers two books for the 99-Hour 99-Cent Event.
Tender Christmas Tales
Moods of Africa
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