“Beautiful, Funny, and Smart”

My Intelligent Little Girl

Returning home from an arduous day at school, on Jim's bus
Returning home from an arduous day at school, on Jim’s bus

My five year old daughter steps off the school bus after her first day of school, opens the door and walks toward the kitchen.  Stephanie stops to look at me sitting at the table and says, “Oh Dad, by the way –  I don’t have to go to school anymore.”

That remark was made even cuter coming from the lips of a little child.  My interest was peaked and so I had to ask…”Why not?”

Her reply, said matter of factly, “I already know everything!”

Wow, I held back the boisterous laughter and asked, “Really?”

Stephanie answered so confidently that my thinking was swayed and I began to question my own thoughts?  Is she an autistic savant like in the movie, Rain Man?

Cover of "Rain Man"
Cover of Rain Man

I asked that question of myself because since her diagnosis of autism at age two and before I noticed some peculiar behavior, for a kid.  She would, for hours, sit and turn one page at a time, the phone book.   The phone book got old after about a week and she graduated to the Bible, and again, page by page.

I never thought anything of it until sitting in adult Sunday School one morning the pastor asked a question and I think it went like this, “How many days  did Job not talk?”

Stephanie’s little hand shot up!  The Pastor said that he normally would not call on a child but he made an exception, “Stephanie?”

She responded correctly and told him, “Seven”.  I didn’t even know the answer so obviously I began thinking of her days alone with the Bible and wondered if she had actually understood?

One beautiful sunny, fall day we were at my sister’s place and Linda and I sat in Andirondack chairs.  Between them was a small waterfall and Stephanie was four at the time but asked Linda if she had bought it in Indonesia?    Linda thought it amazing that Stephanie was able to spell the word in her mind and pronounce it correctly, much less, make an adult sentence using it.  Linda explained to her that the item was “Made in Indonesia” and she just purchased it at a store here in Minnesota.

Now nine years old Stephanie continues to amaze at times.  I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to raise her and watch her change as she grows..

Anticipation, Maree, Stephanie and unknown
Anticipation, Maree, Stephanie and unknown

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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