Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Meg Casey
Meg Casey as a Jack In The Box
photo courtesy of the Casey family

Handicapped Holidays

Holiday Overview

Meg loved holidays with her favorites being the most festive celebrations of Christmas and Independence Day. (Independence can mean something completely different to those with disabilities that struggle to do the things in life that most of us take for granted). Halloween allowed Meg to show off her creative costumes. A favorite of many was dressing up as a Jack-In-The-Box. The city dedicated the 1985 Memorial Day parade in the memory of the community leader that had died the day before.

Handicapped Christmas Gifts

November 16 1983

Hello Meg,

I am trying to think of the perfect gift to give a young friend of mine for Christmas.

I have known this young lady all of my life as her mother and I have been the best of friends since our own childhood. My uncertainty is based on my own handicap rather than hers. I would hate to choose something too young or too boring. I remember how disdainfully I used to look upon my own aunt's Christmas presents because they were always plain cotton underwear and socks, every year!

I don't know if it will affect your advice or not but this friend has cerebral palsy and walks with the aid of a cane. She is a fairly quiet girl and she attends the public high school in her hometown where she always makes the honor roll.

Thank you for taking the time for my problem too.

Sincerely, Santa

Ho, Ho, Ho, Santa,

Aren't you rushing the season a bit? Holy-moly we haven't eaten our Thanksgiving turkey yet! Yikes, Christmas!

A 16-year old female is at the frustrating age of being neither a little girl nor a woman and possibly feels under-appreciated, under-estimated and misunderstood. Three things that don't necessarily pertain to the same issue in their young lives either! Every woman I know was just like that at 16 and in a hurry to be an adult. Actually what I think we were desiring was the respect an individual deserves which only adults seem to receive.

Perfume, jewelry pr pretty adornments for her hair are lovely gifts at any age. Whenever I personally give a gift I choose something that I would like to be getting for myself. I find it very difficult to pick things other than in my own "tastes." (Besides if the receiver doesn't like my gift perhaps I'll give to myself!) A pocketbook for everyday or dress one an evening style; belts and accessories for versatility in her wardrobe; silk scarves or ties; wool scarves and hats; leather gloves; sweaters. … How about a gift of entertainment? Do you know her taste in music? Buy albums or cassette tapes; concert tickets; gift certificate to the movies (can be gotten at any box office); gift certificate to a restaurant for brunch, lunch or dinner with you alone. I would set my mind to thinking of "a not quite legal age young adult" and you won't go wrong this year Santa.

Christmas

December 21 1983

Hello Readers,

"Tis the season to be jolly" and I have been sitting here wondering "What shall I bestow upon (you), my friends, this Christmas?" Trust in tomorrow, … faith in a new dawn, … belief that God is always with you …Yes, I wish you all these things but especially – I want for you the Magic gift of keeping your heart young and your eyes open so that nothing beautiful shall ever escape you. So that your mind's eye will really see your Christmas stocking filled with God's gifts to you; the intricate design and haunting fragrance of a flower; the fluted note of a bird song; the sound of rippling, lapping waters; the glowing glory of a sunset – All lovely things your life has known – All treasures of your very own.

Even while we are suffering through hard days, beautiful things are still going on in the world around us.

If only we could learn to draw back a little at these times and focus in on one of the other happenings long enough for us to catch our breath and equalize our balance once more and then we could begin to view our situations in proper perspective again.

It is my wish that you see the beauty in each day so that that the longer you live the more beautiful shall life become.

Have a happy, healthy and safe holidays!

Christmas Wishes

December 19 1984

Dear My Friends,

In spite of the violence, hatred, crime and greed that crowd our airways, I wish you all the realization that you have a heavenly gift that only God can give – a blank check for a brand-new day, 24 hours which you can fill in anyway you choose."

"May you be wise enough to create your own beauty out of this chaos: to peruse the wonder of twilight and to feel the freshness of dawn, to delight in watching a bird soar against a pale blue sky: to feel the happiness only gained in helping someone who needs you; to know the joy of being understood – even without words – and the peace of growing old with gentle wisdom and abiding love. But – most of all – may you fill in your church with the richest beauty of all. … a life well lived.

This is my Christmas wish for you."

Margaret F. Casey, 1983

I wanted to give you all something very special this holiday season, and share the gentle wisdom in the words of this Christmas greeting. Words written by a wise and gentle lady, my mother – one of God's gifts to me. She has given me many gifts in my life but none greater than her constant optimism, support and love with which she has helped me to view life's spectrum and feel it's excitement.

Have a very Happy Holiday, everyone.

Sincerely, Meg

Sign Language Santa

On Sunday, December 18. 1984 from 4 to 8 PM at the Connecticut Post Mall, a signing Santa Claus greeted all of this special little friends with hearing impairments as they come to tell him all about their Christmas wishes.

In 2015, a spokesperson for the Connecticut Post Mall's Santa was open to having a signing Santa next year in addition to the "special needs" Santa they offer in early December. The mall has since been sold but statements indicate that management will stay the same.

New Year's Resolutions

January 2 1985

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone has made it through the holiday revelry making it in one piece and that such is managing - so far! - to keep up faithfully all of the "heartfelt" resolutions that were whipping around in the air amidst the confetti the other night! This scene never ceases to amaze me nor to be the source for at least one good chuckle, for every New Year's Eve it's the same. Just as the little pieces of party paper and streamers begin to settle somebody cuts loose with another gutsy declaration and sets them to whirling about again. No matter the size of the party or whether there is any confetti flying, it's there in spirit - and on New Year's Eve, at the stroke of midnight, when even the calmest of people seem to have let their "yayas" out - the spirit is wonderful!

In this holiday spirit of love and good cheer and at a time for new and "fresh" beginnings, people look for their family members to tell them they love them and reach out to their friends to show them they care. In a matter of minutes hearts are fit to burst and eyes are overflowing with tears, and the promises for a better future start to be heard. Slowly at first and picking up momentum as they sail effortlessly out of happy mouths, declarations promising the most miraculous of turn about - in record breaking time (of course!) - are laid claim to as "My New Year's Resolution." Naturally no one is allowing for the exercising of patience in the making of those promises. After all, this is 1984 America. We want speed and we want it now!

I can enjoy poking fun at the outrageousness because some very good things take place during this time as well. Some axes have stopped grinding and the old grinding wheels are left permanently to rest; some hatchets were peacefully buried and families and friends were reunited, while some lovers were united at last. Some sincere deals were made with a mere handshake of trust that set into motion to a positive end, the steps making history for some people towards a positive future. And then - somewhere, some cute and squeaky babies were born who will make all of our days "somewhat" brighter and more cuddly "somehow!"

With these thoughts I can sit back with a sigh and a smile as guilty as the next guy for conveniently losing track of just where I have lost some of my more grandiose resolutions for the New Year during the remaining days of the year.

This year, however, I resolve to mend my ways in making New Year's resolutions. They will be realistic, worthwhile and attainable goals that will benefit others as well as me.

In 1985 I am going to dedicate most of my works toward architectural accessibility and to the positive promotion of those fully-accessible establishments I can find to deal with.

The one firmly set idea I have to begin my year is a pleasurable one. One weekend a month will be set aside for investigating, seeking out and perhaps even stumbling upon really enjoyable and fully-accessible places offering leisure-time entertainment.

The end result of the compiled information would be:

Supply Meg's M.A.D. column with at least one establishment per month to be written up about giving a full critique of the foods, entertainment and style, plus level of accessibility.

Develop listings for a guide book to accessible dining and entertainment in the state. Dare I start in Milford? This is a project in which all suggestions, help, questions or advice would be welcome.

I am very enthusiastic about starting out and sincerely hope to be able to do a thorough job covering material that my readers both want and need to know about.

Please don't hesitate to share your news, I look forward to hearing from you all. Let's have fun!

Many other issues were discussed in 1985 leaving an art exhibit announcement as the sole entertainment or dining review towards the goal of more reviews before Meg's last column in May. Dining and entertainment are tough businesses to succeed at making compiling a dining list very difficult to keep updated. Reviews have remained online years for a closed Milford restaurant featuring entertainment that lasted an average of 7 months in each of 3 different locations.

Easter week

April 3 1985

Dear Readers,

May I be one of the first to wish you all I have a very Happy Easter Week! This is the week for showing our love for one another. With this special holiday we are reminded that the Lord God gave his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to save us – because he loved us so much.

Whether you are Christian or not this is a good time for standing still a moment and looking back over the slips of our own past, both recent and distant, and possibly re-identifying the reasons we chose the paths that we did. In our lives, to remember that many sacrifices that were made between the 'then" and the "now" and all of the people besides ourselves who made some of these sacrifices for us in order to help along the way - just because, for some reason of their own, they cared. Then, … be grateful.

Stand where you are in time, today look back, and be grateful and give an expression of your appreciation to the special people you know. Why? Because you – are – standing where you are today! Alive and breathing. No matter what brilliant or drab looks you color your memories with, you made it through to today. Perhaps a little worn and battle weary, but you made it! Here you are, in the world now able to turn and look ahead into a brand new tomorrow.

Whatever – that miserable lot or rose garden – it is behind you and a new day is yours to make the most of or to blow straight through to the high heavens. It is your choice to make. Remain on the present path you're on, or change direction and entirely in your life.

If you can keep up the good and useful things you remember, make moments, and change the changeable things you aren't happy with or proud of. Take the knowledge you have gained from your experiences and apply it toward the betterment and happiness of your future. Something should work out. If not, take a moment to reassess your situation and once again be grateful. Grateful for having had the chance to try new things at all. Then try again. Leave the bitterness behind in a box somewhere. … it is only self-destructive to hang onto it. You'll find that enjoyment can't be recaptured in full glory.

Physically challenged people must also allow the love they feel for those around them and expect all that is done for them to be their due. People should do for one another because they love one another – not because they have to.

Everything blossoms with just a little love, a little caring! The young children who take part in the Y's Day Care program next-door to the M.I.D.P. office down in the Devon Neighborhood Center on Naugatuck Avenue have proven that to me by performing what to me is something of a minor miracle. At Easter time they're brought our plant back to life!

These children from the Day Care class pass by the office doorway every day when going to and from the bathrooms and usually stop "Hello, Meg Casey!" to get my attention and then give a vigorous wave before running off again.

Well at Christmas time I attempted to hide the bare branches of a once lush avocado tree that had turned to brown stuck in a pot of dirt by hanging some Christmas ornaments on it where the leaves were supposed to be. It was rather a sad rendition of Charlie Brown's tiny Christmas tree. Well, I tried! I swear I did everything but tap dance for the blooming thing, but BLOOM it didn't. Shed it did. It made me feel guilty, gave me a failure complex!

Anyway the kids were fascinated by my "handicapped tree" and offered to add their own decorations to mine. It was lovely! On Valentine's Day they covered its naked branches with gorgeous pink and read hearts and now it has a flock of yellow cartoon chickens nesting all over it! Then low and behold, don't you know, that tree is begin to sprout. Brand new shoots with heaven! You see? Love does make miraculous changes!

Happy Easter, everyone, thank you for all of your encouragement and support! - Meg.

Independent Fireworks

July 6 1983

Dear Readers,

One of my favorite holidays of the year is the 4th of July. It runs a very close second only to Christmas Eve.

Both are times when my family gatherings my family gathers in one large, willing cluster and celebrates our being together. Christmas then, for us, is a time filled with tender emotions, but July 4th is typically charged with sunshine, beer and fun. It's not July 4; it is the 4th of July!

We sat back by the water's edge this 4th and experienced the days climatic end bursting over our heads in colorful showers from the endless streams of whistles, bangs and booms. I couldn't help but look upon this happy scene, shake my head with a smile and think, "They're all criminals!"

As far as I could see along the beach, there was the most fantastic display of illegal fireworks going off. The entire Milford coastline was aglow from a continuous chain of bonfires (also illegal) in front of every house as the otherwise fine citizens of this town redeclared their independence in a singular evening of rebelliousness.

My wonder of it all was reflected in the bright eyes and excited little upturned faces of the children as they watched from around our own fire – which traditionally takes their uncle hours to construct. The pit must be dug and the timbers set just so .… I found myself choked with emotion as I saw tiny Anthony reach out for his very first sprinkler. The dazzle of that sparkler was outshone by the beauty of that baby's face as he looked upon it. How delighted he was.

These are the things memories are made up. These are the kinds of memories that keep us flocking back in increasing numbers each year to Cedar Beach – trying to connect more memories for ourselves and to help show our kids how to build strong, vivid memories for themselves to rival the ones that have kept their elders so happy inside all these years.

With the passing on of tradition comes a strong measure of caution for safety. The wonderful array of fireworks set off made everyone's spine tingle with the excitement of their youth, but never far from the adult's mind was the consciousness of their children and just "who was where and touching what."

After all is said and done testing the danger of explosives of any degree in the wrong hands is horrifying. The thought of any one of those beautiful people singing around the fireside becoming one of the tragic statistics of a 4th of July accident is almost more than I can bear. It is then I actually recognize the reasons for the laws restricting fireworks.

However, the important thing to remember is to KEEP the faces of the children bright and excited and safe.

I hope your Fourth of July was as tremendous as ours!

Safe Fourth of July

July 4 1984

I wish you all the best also for a safe and fun filled 4th of July! Please be careful of your actions today and be conscious of what your kids might be playing with so that everyone remains healthy and happy for their tomorrows.

A popular children's book that Meg may have read was "Follow My Leader" by James B. Garfield about a boy that became blind from a firecracker. It included some of the ways the blind navigate through life such as counting coins by their diameter and if they have ridged edges. There also was a moral that when the blind boy says a fireplace mantle's sharp edge is dangerous, he is taught about relying upon oneself with the admonishment "Do you expect the world to pad its corners for you just because you're blind?"

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© 2015 to 2017 site design by Daniel Ortoleva
photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper