In January of 2018, Job One received a very generous $50,000 gift to be paid over four years from the John C. Griswold Family Foundation. The commitment for the grant was made by David Earls, grandson of Mr. Griswold who is a part of the family foundation.
David Earls and his wife Mary both served on the Foundation Workshop board which was a predecessor of what is now Job One. David has a beloved son, Edward who has developmental disabilities and the grant to Job One was to be the Edward Earls Legacy Grant. This was a very touching and meaningful donation.
In discussing the gift with David Earls, I asked that he share some information about his son so that we could all know him and see him through the loving eyes of his parents. The information below is the story of Edward that Mr. Earls provided to me.
Edward is 32. When he was born, the pediatrician came to tell me and his mother about his condition, he tried very hard to soften the blow of having a Down syndrome child with unknown capacity. You always want to think the best in this kind of situation, but I as usual failed at that. When he asked if we had any questions, I had only one. “When do we get to see him?”
A nurse brought him to us then and handed him to me. I was given the opportunity to be the first to hold him. We locked eyes, and a bond never broken was formed.
That bond meant that we would have a deep and lasting relationship, and simply reinforced the need of a child to a parent. His mother and I were going to be required to fill Edward’s needs just the way any parent has the requirement to meet needs for any child.
There is no absolute measure of a child’s needs. No point at which a parent can say, “I’ve done all I can. It’s up to the child now.” Some can go beyond a parent’s ability to provide. Some can’t.
It would be easy to claim the role of saint with someone like Edward in providing for him. But there are no saints in providing for Edward. He cannot provide for himself. There are, simply, needs to be provided for. And so you provide for those needs as you should for any child.
Edward has no challenges. He has no abilities other than the ability to be happy. An ability we all wish we had, perhaps. But an ability Edward possesses uniquely. You only need to see him smile to see a person who possesses joy.
Edward is a teacher. Wordlessly, he teaches, with great patience, those things we call virtue. He teaches patience, acceptance, constancy, unconditional love. He teaches selflessness – he has no discernible sense of self, and so you should have no sense of self, which means you learn humility. You must learn to dismiss a sense of expectation. You must learn that a moment together is a moment you cannot create on your own, because it is a shared moment.
If there is anything good in me (and I’m not claiming there is) it is something I am learning from Edward. While I am far, far from being the good student, Edward remains the good teacher. Always patient with and appreciative of his often-poor student.
Edward is joy.
If you’re interested in supporting the mission of Job One to help others like Edward, please click here.