acceptance, Jeanne and Ryan would have some weapons they could use. They could take the initiative and perhaps even experience as success or two.
Could Jeanne White have predicted the many ways Ryan would become famous? How could she know that after the bigoted rejection from Kokomo, the town of Cicero would embrace the White family and provide them with a home and financial support? (One never reads of it, but one can imagine the enormous economic burden Jeanne had faced!) Could she have anticipated the grace and poise Ryan would exhibit in meeting those already famous celebrities who wanted to meet him? Could any of us have predicted that many of those rich and famous would also behave graciously toward Ryan and become important friends with the entire family? And yet it happened just his way.
All of this is his story, and it is her story, too. When I think of those who second guess Jeanne White's motives I am reminded of the aphorism: before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes. Having experienced the blinding anguish of nearly losing a child; the exhausting emotional roller coaster of caring for a child with chronic life-threatening condition; having held the hands of terminally ill friends as they worked through the stages of death acceptance (each with
Their own grace and style); having struggled to let go of, yet stay present for, my adolescent children as they struggle toward independence; and, finally, having bowed under the poverty of single-mothering and resting how it tore at the fabric of my family and hampered the functional dynamics of our life, I have only compassion and respect for Jeanne White.
If my child were dying, and I could arrange for her to travel and meet her musician idols, and if I could become financially secure so that I could spend my time being the Mother I want to be, if I could laugh and smile and still enjoy life as mortality cast a shadow on our days (giving my child the greatest gift of all -- the gift of living each moment!), and --yes-- if I could arrange for Elton John to sing at the funeral and make that funeral an historical (albeit media) event and secure, through fame, a piece of immortality for my child, you had better believe I absolutely would.
And because I am a Mother, I would be expected to do it all; and because I am a 'good' Mother, I would want to do it all. Those who are critical of Jeanne White, seem to resent her successes, resenting more than anything the creative ways in which she found support for herself and her family. I wonder what those critics have to say about Ryan White's father...