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We are back with a brand new season. Now, Life as a Gringo speaks to Latinos who are born or raised here in the States. It's about educating and breaking those generational curses that men have been holding us back for far too long. I'm here to discuss the topics that are relevant to all of us and to define what it means to live as our true, authentic self. Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm.
Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And today, we hear from Jeff Katz. He's a radio host in Richmond, Virginia, and he's also a columnist for the Boston Herald. And here, he shares his deeply personal story about his teenage daughter, Julia, who has what doctors call global developmental delays and disabilities.
And all that means is that she functions physically and mentally at the level of a toddler. Here's Jeff reading a note that he wrote to his daughter. Dear Julia, I'm writing you this note on March the 7th, 2018. Today is the day that you turn 15 years old.
It's an interesting day for me and for mom, but it's another day for you. You're not like other kids, my sweet. You've never made a big deal of your birthday. You've never asked us for any type of a special gift. Not for your birthday, not for Hanukkah, not for Christmas. You've treated each and every day in the same way. Mom will wake you up and you'll have a smile on your face when you see her.
She'll play some of your music and you'll smile even more. You may laugh or giggle or squeal, but there will not be any words. You won't complain about having to go to school.
You won't be happy to hear that it is a snow day. You won't celebrate the fact that today is 15 years since you were born. Most 15-year-old girls would be thinking about clothing, college, or a car. By 15, many dads have already had to warn their daughters about some dopey boy.
But today, you'll watch your favorite episode of Jack's Big Music Show, enjoy your cereal, and be on the lookout for cookies wherever you can find them. Mom and I know that you will be with us as long as we're alive, but we worry about what happens after we're gone. You have two wonderful brothers and I pray every day that we have raised them well enough to know that they will need to look after you someday. You may be our middle child, but you'll always be the baby. Even as you get older according to the calendar, as Mom told me yesterday, you are timeless. You'll always be my pipsqueak, despite the fact that the years are flying by.
No, we're not exploring potential careers or making plans for your wedding. We're still hoping that we'll be able to help you move from diapers to the potty someday. You lived today the same way you did when you were about 18 months old. You don't speak and you only recognize a few words, but oh, the words that you know. Kisses and cookies. No matter how filled up you are, there's always room for a cookie or two. You don't understand when I ask you how your day was, but you become laser beam focused when you hear the crinkle of the wrapper on a package of something sweet. No matter how sweet that candy, it's still eclipsed by your genuinely sweet smile. So many people live their lives asking for things, demanding things, accumulating things.
Most people never take the time to stop and savor a piece of cake or breathe deeply to appreciate a gentle breeze like you do. I hear people in this world use horrible, insulting language to describe kids like you, and I want to shake them and yell at them. Some mock disabled kiddos like you, and I feel like crying. You don't understand their words, but I do.
Sometimes I really wish I did not. We never thought you would crawl, let alone walk, but you showed us. Your situation and challenges and disabilities have caused me to question my belief in God on some days and have served to strengthen it on others. You don't speak, but somehow you are able to brighten my days in ways that I never imagined. Without a single solitary word, you've made me a better man and touched countless people. Hearing you cry ties my stomach into knots, but your giggle is truly the happiest sound that I have ever heard.
I know you'll never read this, nor would you understand this if I were to read it to you. So let me just say, kisses and cookies, Jules Bagules. I tell you today what I have told you on every March the 7th since 2003. Daddy loves you more than you will ever know. And thank you for that reading, Jeff.
You've made me a better man, he wrote. Your giggle is the happiest sound I've ever heard. On Julia's unexpectedly learning how to walk, Jeff told the Boston Herald that, quote, it was one of the proudest days of my life, one of the happiest days of my life. But I also have to tell you, it's a terrifying situation because Julia is like a toddler. She has no real understanding of, oh, the stove is hot, or I could fall here or trip there.
We're thrilled that she's trying to explore on her own a little bit, and we're terrified at the same time. And this is true for all of us parents, but even more so for Jeff and his bride. Jeff has said that it's tough to realize that he'll never get to embarrass Julia by dancing with her at her wedding. But, quote, she's the best thing that's ever happened to me, end quote. Last but not least, he said these words, quote, she's never spoken a word.
She's never said a word to anybody. But she's touched more people in her 15 years on this earth than I ever have. Her joy is pure. To me, she's like the face of God.
She's the essence of good, and she shares her joy with everybody. Jeff Katz's story, his daughter Julia's, here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to OurAmericanStories.com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.
That's OurAmericanStories.com. Excuse me, did you know that when you use the Roto app to buy a car, Roto actually finds all the secret available rebates and discounts specific to you. So the price I see is my unique price? That's right, the lowest and best. Does Roto do this for every customer or just customers named Catherine? Well, that depends.
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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-22 09:15:43 / 2023-02-22 09:20:12 / 4