Jack Lives in a Small Town

Jeff and I went into Jack’s residential placement with the idea that his current group home would be temporary. We couldn’t stomach the thought of moving him so far away from us. As we began the process of placing him, however, we began to see the distance differently.

All the things that felt wrong to us about his current town now feel really right.

For years, I struggled to acclimate Jack into life on the rapidly growing Wasatch Front, with little success. Now he lives in a small town, and it seems to be just what he needs. It’s calmer, slower, uncrowded.

Jobs are more scarce there, so employees at the company running Jack’s group home are committed. We couldn’t keep employees here, and we were never able to fully staff the necessary hours for Jack’s care.

There is beautiful scenery and wide open spaces to spare around Jack’s town. Traffic jams aren’t a thing there.

I worried that a rural community wouldn’t have the same educational resources that Jack has benefited from here. But, it turns out, his new town ACTUALLY HAS a self-contained school for the disabled, and its pedagogical philosophy is much the same as his old school near us. What are the chances? What miracle is this?

Never in his thirteen years have I considered that Jack would thrive in a small town. It never seemed like a better option. It’s funny how now I can see that I had it all wrong. I didn’t know what Jack needed, though I thought I did.

I am constantly learning that Jack and I are different. He isn’t an extension of me, of our family. He is an individual, with needs that don’t match up with our other sons, or with the general population. Where I might feel trapped or bored or limited in a small town, it is exactly what Jack needs. And the distance is less of an issue, because we can’t take him to family events anyway. Jack’s presence at family dinners have been rife with meltdowns and near-disasters for years.

Jack has changed the way I think. He’s changed my perspective on what a good life is. He has altered my priorities.

I continue to be astonished at how humbling my life is, and how much I continue to learn, despite being a grown-up who supposedly has it all together (I have nothing together).

  3 comments for “Jack Lives in a Small Town

  1. June 8, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Jack’s good-life perspective sounds refreshing.

  2. June 8, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    And so it goes. Just when you think you might have it together – poof – God lets you know you have a ways yet to go, and you are not the only one. Love You!

  3. Pam
    June 9, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I have learned a similar lesson many times. Most recently, my husband and I were put in charge of planning trek in my old ward and had asked a couple in our Ward who were specially qualified to be a ma and pa, then proceeded to give them some of the most difficult teens knowing that his job as a school counselor and hers as a social worker made them uniquely qualified to handle tough kids. But God had other plans. Those kids absolutely were in the right family group, because their pa got very sick the first day up there, and ended up not participating for the rest of the week. And their ma needed those tough strong independent kids to help her do a very hard trek without her husband at her side. They took on bigger responsibilities, pulled together (quite literally) and worked to make their experience a positive and spiritual one. Those kids came away from that trek changed. I was so humbled at the simpleness of our Father in Heaven’s plan for that family. I was so sure I knew why that family pairing was right, but He was the master planner with the true reason behind it all. Keep your head up, and we will all continue to learn these lessons together.

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