The long and dreary harvest season, when combined with the continued lack of optimism for next summers hog market has many of the readers of this blog concerned about their future in agriculture. I thought I use this week’s blog to share some personal news that should brighten the day for many of you.
As many of the readers of this blog are aware, I retired from the University of Nebraska just over 3 years ago and relocated to North Mankato, Minnesota. The reason for the retirement and relocation wasn’t that I was at the normal age of retirement or that I had family in the Mankato area. My wife and I undertook this entire adventure on behalf of our youngest daughter, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth had a stroke during her gestation which resulted in her brain not forming correctly. As a result, she has faced a lifetime of challenges. In addition, she requires 24 hour care and supervision for all of her daily needs. While Wayne, Nebraska was a great place to raise Liz’s older siblings, the opportunities for Liz were becoming very limiting. Liz will be 20 yrs old in December and the population base of northeast Nebraska isn’t big enough to have the type of lifetime services that Liz requires. If we had stayed in rural Nebraska, lifetime placement services for Liz would most likely have been in Omaha or Lincoln, over 100 miles distant.
Thus the early retirement and relocation to Minnesota by my wife and I. Based on our conversations with parents, special education administrators, etc., we felt that the Mankato area was large enough to have the services Liz requires, and we felt the state of Minnesota in general had more resources available than did Nebraska.
The move has been everything we’ve hoped for our daughter. She has grown in so many ways from the additional opportunities that the Mankato school district and the community of Mankato provide.
We are now faced with the biggest opportunity of all – a chance to place Liz in a caring environment that might be her home for the future years. We began the process this week of transitioning Liz from living with us 24 hours per day to living in a home about 5 minutes from us.
While most of you have agonized about your children’s future and shed tears of joy and sadness when they went out on their own, we will be at another level of joy and sadness. Right now, we do everything for Liz, from feeding her to changing her diaper to dressing her. We have many talented PCA’s (Personal Care Assistant’s) who come into our home almost daily to assist us, but our lives are dominated by our concerns and the care needs of Liz.
When she leaves our home to be under the watchful care of a professional organization, it will be very tough on my wife and I. While we have a lot of anxiety over the decision process that is facing us in the next 2-3 months, we are overwhelmed with joy that the reason for the move to Mankato appears to be happening, even in spite of severe budget problems for the state of Minnesota and Nicollet county.
The good news is that my little girl is growing up, even with her many limitations. Thank you to the citizens of Minnesota who have created a system that will allow her to continue to grow at a location whereby we can still be involved in her life on a daily basis.