These functions need to be performed for each unit of the family to meet their individual and collective needs.
It is no secret that Melanie's mother and father loved her deeply. One story really stuck out to me in Chapter 15. Clive whistled and realized Melanie smiled as he did it. "From then on, Clive whistled like his life depended on it...Melanie was smiling, and her smile was beautiful and meaningful".
Melanie was socialized as much as possible. She had a lot of friends and family member surrounding her, even very knowledgeable babysitters. They helped interact with her and asked her simple questions for her to be active in socializing. She was placed in school where she was able to form new relationships with adults and other children.
Beth reestablished the Immortelle Center "I had begun to develop a clearer idea of how I could adapt what I had learned to a much more circumscribed situation". Valuable workers at the center, Mercedes, Glenna, and Elizabeth, helped set goals for Melanie and even corrected her behavior whenever her nautiness shined through.
Melanie's mother expresses her spirituality early on in the text. She states "Explaining my deep connection to Christian values and concepts helps me to interpret my reaction to the challenges Melanie brought me". While she didn't necessarily believe in all Christian values and prayer, she did believe some spiritual rituals that helped her through her toughest times with Melanie.
The daily care of Melanie required many attempts at feeding, changing, and interacting. Chapter 23 discusses Beth's attempt to insert Melanie's feeding tube on her own for the very first time. As time goes on, Beth works tirelessly to figure out what would work best for Melanie to make her feedings and daily interactions successful. Every day came with new challenges and Beth and her support system worked to figure out what would work best for Melanie. They never gave up on her, even on the hardest days.
While Melanie couldn't run and play like the other kids, she did learn to clumsily stand, walk, and ride a bike. It is refreshing to know that her first interaction with other children was positive. As she was standing in a walker as they were playing, it only took the power of knowledge and understanding to help the other children realize that even though she couldn't run around with them, she still wanted to feel included.
"We lived simply, in a modest house rented from Marlene and Eccles, Clive's sister and brother-in-law, who lived in Toronto. As Clive liked to say, the diminished income would simply mean he would have to drink rum instead of scotch!" Clive held a steady job that required some travel and movement of the family, however, it didn't seem to effect the family dynamic too much and they seemed to do fairly well, considering medical costs for Melanie.
In chapter 13, the author discusses how Melanie's feedings were getting better after a long 8 months of her constantly spitting up. She talks about her favorite time of the day, bedtime. "I would sing her my Sweet Bird song and pat her back. She would go off to sleep, and I would feel, for a few moments, like a normal mother".
The author states "Clive's network of siblings, who were at the time living in the United States and Toronto, were integral to our family identify and would prove to be a continuing source of support for us. Beth, Clive, family, nurses, doctors all came together to help support Melanie and her needs throughout her short life.
Clive, Beth, and their whole army of supporters had to adapt to a new life once Melanie arrived. Not only were Clive and Beth new parents and Beth especially, had all of these wonderful thoughts of parenthood when she knew she was expecting. They had to learn to not only be new parents, but be parents of a child with disability.
1. Use visuals with pictures cards. Either on a spiral ring or on Velcro to help assist and express her needs and wants. This would also be a great tool to keep a schedule for her. First, Next, Last-to get her tasks completed.
2. Discuss with the class Melanie's difficulties and choose a weekly buddy to help her throughout each day. This would be a great tool in case her teacher's can't immediately go right over to help her.
3. Arrange classroom furniture to make it more accessible for Melanie to move freely.