29 years ago one of our big life transitions was happening. We had spent the past 9 years, from August 1974 to December 1983, raising our children, living in a farmhouse between Aurora and Newmarket and supporting 12 men with developmental disabilities. Paul was also working in upper management in an institution and was now helping the final few people left there, to move to the community as it closed.
It was a big transition for the people moving into the community, but my transition was from living with people as a house parent, supported by a multidisciplinary team of professionals at the institution, to moving out of the house we had shared with them, and working for the community agency that took on the care of the people we had lived with.
From mid December to early in 1984, I hired staff for the team I would manage as a program director, a role at which, for all my years of experience with people with disabilities, I was a greenhorn. I had never led a team of people before.
One by one the team grew, and one day, a tall behaviour therapist with a deep voice came to consult with us on some of the more challenging behaviours we were encountering.
He said he loved the fact that there was so much laughter on the team and he unknowingly instilled confidence in a wobbly kneed program director who was learning the ropes of a completely new dynamic of working with and leading people.
His name was Dave Hingsburger, and he was just 31 to my 33 years. Today he turns 60; the second of my very dear friends to do so this week.
Throughout the 1980's we worked together, and in the 1990's stayed in touch. I deeply respected and appreciated his honesty and independent thought. What he wrote often stretched our minds, challenged us, or resonated.
Along the way he became widely known and respected in the world of developmental services as a fearless fighter for freedom from abuse and someone who has made the world a safer place for people with disabilities.
He became someone I trusted as an accepting friend who would care and pray when I needed support. I never needed to say exactly what the problem was, but if I needed to, I would trust him with my deepest vulnerabilities and be sure that they would be safe with him; that he would not judge.
In the past decade our friendship has only deepened. He is one of the master encouragers of my writing life. A brilliant writer himself, he has helped me believe that I can write by his generous endorsement and support! :)
I still love his honesty and heart and treasure his friendship and these few words are the tip of an iceberg of deep caring.
Happy birthday dear friend. It may be all downhill from 60--but the ride is exhilarating! :)