By CINDY CHIM
With a mixture of humour and sadness, Deborah Covell Fletcher shared her journey as a mother of a special needs child in the book Finding Your HEY!.
“It may be sad at first, and then I realize that it was indeed a very special club, and I have met lots of mums like me, that have kids with all different kinds of disabilities. And it’s a privilege and an honour to be their mother,” said Fletcher.
A Beach resident, Fletcher shared her experience with her daughters and how she went through the journey in the book. She interviewed four friends who also encountered a different kind of heartbreaking moments, combining their memoir with her strategies for bringing happiness to life.
She said Finding Your HEY! contains tactics that “anyone could employ in their lives with any kind of disappointment or unmet expectations or other grief.”
“It has moments of humor, and it has moments of sadness, and I really wanted to reflect that in the book because first, that’s what life is,” said Fletcher. “It’s a series of happy moments and challenging moments.”
Fletcher has twin daughters, Emma and Quinn, who are 23-year-olds now. Quinn is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and many disabilities; she is non-verbal, uses a wheelchair for mobility and is fed with a gastrostomy tube.
When she first knew Quinn was severely disabled, Fletcher said she “was pretty devastated,” for both her daughter and herself. She needed to quit her job and surrender her career life just to be a caregiver.
“We look for things that are going to hurt us,” said Fletcher.
When she brought her daughters for a walk, and saw any double strollers pass by, she uncontrollably looked at the stroller to confirm if there were any healthy twins inside. When she saw little girls, particularly, she said she would feel sad.
“We always have that choice on how we want to direct our minds and our thoughts, because our thoughts can cause us to have positive emotions or negative emotions… You have to almost program your brain to think positively,” said Fletcher.
To overcome the distress she felt, Fletcher said she took inspiration from her dad, which also prompted the title of the book—Finding your HEY!.
“I watched him handle that with grace and humour and positivity, and an intentional attitude to still live life to its fullest,” said Fletcher.
Her father suffered from a heart attack and stroke when he was 46 years old. After that, he was unable to continue his career. Fletcher said she still remembers the moment he jumped into the hallway at the hospital and greeted her in a vivid and excited tone by saying, “Hey!”.
Since then, his spirit became Fletcher’s secret technique to combat sadness in her entire life.
Along with the inspiration from her father, the Beach community also plays an important role in Fletcher’s journey. She not only built a community with special needs mothers in the neighbourhood, but also created a strong bond with other residents.
“Most of the stores along Queen Street are physically accessible,” said Fletcher, which is something rarely seen in other areas.
Since she had two daughters and spent most of her days along Queen Street East, many local vendors got to know them very well.
“It is conducive to having those kinds of relationships and friendships and just community…I’m just so happy that I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” said Fletcher of the Beach.
“More than any other strategy, my ability to laugh and find the humourous side of a situation has saved my aching heart from taking over my emotional state. The cliché ‘laughter is the best medicine’ does have practical merit. Nothing can change your perspective like humour,” said Fletcher.
For more information on Finding Your HEY!, and how to purchase a copy, please go https://deborahcovell.com/
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