By: Josh Hansen
Community Support Facilitator
I was hoping to collaborate with Rick on an article for the website - something he would normally be eager to do - but lately he hasn't been in the space to sit and focus. That's part of living in Rick's world. There are good days and there are bad days. He's lived in institutions, nursing and group homes, and all had difficulty accommodating his changing needs. The beauty of living his own life is that it can flow and adjust according to the needs of the moment. On his best days, Ricky is fully animated. Bursting with song, he is eager to share a joke, have an adventure and enjoy the day no matter what it brings. He goes on frequent outings to his favorite places: the San Diego Zoo, various malls, Sea World and Dog Park. Often he will invite friends who also have a disability. When he is around those with more disabilities, he forgets his own needs and will focus on their comfort & well-being with genuine tenderness. His laughter is contagious, and his blue eyes flash with mirth & mischief. On the bad days... well, he's full of something else. Two substances come to mind - both unpleasant and corrosive. He reminds me of General Sherman, with grizzled, scowling countenance and temper to boot. Once his mind is made, there is no budging him. However, it is this tenacity that has helped him to be his own advocate and fight for his rights! It is on these "off" days that you will likely find him at the corner in North Park, smoking, panhandling and bending the ear of anyone who stops to chat. He is well known and loved by shopkeepers and transients alike, and though only a few know Ricks situation, there is always an innate understanding and loving acceptance that "Rick is Rick!"
Soon enough, he will be ready to sit and tell his own story. Until then, keep an eye out for him in North Park and - for the modest price of a cup of cocoa, he'll tell you himself.
Note from Deb: After reading this story to Rick and ensuring it was OK to put it on our website, I asked him if there is anything he would like to add. This is what he said:
"Remember when you came to visit me at Lanterman and I was down and depressed - too many clients with bad behaviors. Since living on my own I feel I love other clients with disabilities. I'm glad I met Andrew, Jorge, Demra, and Robbie. I'm happy now. What you guys did for me, that's what you should do for the others. I think it's a good idea to put me on the computer. I'm done."