Yesterday was Paul’s birthday. Most of you probably know who he is by now but for the benefit of those who don’t, he’s my special needs son who’s currently staying with my parents in order to help Mum look after Dad, who’s very, very ill at the moment. He was 31 yesterday but to all intents and purposes, he’s still very much a child. An incredibly loving, helpful and honest child.
I phoned him yesterday to wish him happy birthday - like you do - and after a quick ‘conversation’ (Paul can’t actually speak and as he obviously can’t use sign language or gestures via the phone, conversation is difficult) I spoke to my mum.
She told me he’d received a card from my ex husband. This is a man who I haven’t lived with for about 18 years and who isn’t Paul’s natural father. Paul was a year old when we met, two when we married. Since going our separate ways, he’s had relatively little to do with Paul (long story but there is a reason) but never once has he forgotten him. And there’s always some money in the card too, even though he’s far from ‘flush’ himself.
Paul gets ever so excited about birthday cards - small things mean a hell of a lot to him. Far more so than they ever have to me or my daughters. Paul sees and appreciates things that most of take for granted. Sadly though, he only received two cards. The second one was from my mum. Today he should get two more, one from me and one from his sister (ours obviously didn’t arrive on the day) but unless there are some more late-comers, nobody else bothered.
Now I understand that we usually stop sending cards when children grow up, and that some people won’t send cards at all for ethical reasons, but I would have expected a few more people to understand that Paul isn’t ‘grown up’, especially those who have been close to him, and that he doesn’t have a great many of the pleasures in life that we all take for granted, and at least taken the time to send a card to brighten his day with - to help make him feel special and appreciated. Because he IS special, in so many ways.
I just feel that fewer people seem to take the time to think about what would make somebody else happy and actually do it - sending a card isn’t that difficult. Even a phone call would have been something. Or a letter. Anything!
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t expect anything. Maybe it’s just me being selfish, expecting others to give a damn about my son.