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).

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