Errol Milner Clifford 2006-2009

Errol Milner Clifford was born with a significant heart defect and a cognitive disability that prevented him from walking or talking. As we grieved the child we had anticipated, Errol’s full-bodied smile and irrepressible laugh turned our sorrow into joy, and taught us that many of the best things in life are unexpected. Inspired by Errol’s delightful spirit, friends, family, and neighbors rallied to support our family’s significant emotional, physical, and financial needs, through countless acts of selfless generosity. When Errol’s courageous heart finally failed him on December 23, 2009 we were left numb with grief. In these dark hours we listen hopefully for the echoes of Errol’s brilliant laugh. This blog is the story (starting from present and working back to Errol's birth) of the life and times of the amazing Errol Clifford.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Opening Doors

Errol loves riding horses (wait ‘til they give him a hippo!) His teachers were worried he would cry on his first day out riding, but Errol laughed the whole time. The next week when his class went back to ride, Errol’s riding assistant said he was the happiest child she had ever seen (she thinks he’s happy on a horse, she should see him on our Pomeranian!)

We’ve continued our work on up! Errol has gotten really good at answering our questions about up? Once he even volunteered up! Which is a big developmental step forward. We are so happy to have an entrance into Errol’s desires. Now if he could just change his diaper.

Errol’s brother Owen (ready to turn six) is opening some of life’s most exciting doors. All at once, Owen is discovering math, reading and writing. It’s a very exciting time for him (he gets very proud) and it’s great fun to guide him along the path of learning (I’m a real bad-ass when it comes to addition!!!) It’s also a world Errol will probably (never say never) not know. After all, Errol is three and his vocabulary consists of uh-oh! and we’re ecstatic because he can occasionally sign up! (for all we know, he thinks it means swordfish). Errol learns and then he forgets, he learns and then he forgets. Sometimes it’s like he’s walking through quicksand.

Then again, math and reading are great (well at least reading), but I’m not sure they are the be-all and end-all. Errol has opened doors we didn’t even know were there. He’s shown us that life is abundantly joyful, that laughing is better than not laughing, and that there must be something really amazing on his right hand (three years into this thing he keeps on staring at his right hand - maybe there is a secret code or a tiny pirate treasure map tattooed on there). We are grateful for both our boys and all the doors they lead us through.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ropin' and Ridin'

When I was told my son would be undergoing hippotherapy, I thought of a large animal on a couch in a shrink’s office, “doctor, I had the dream about the man with the gun again!”


How would that help my son, let alone the hippopotamus? And what kind of deductible would the hippo have? I had lots of questions. Luckily I didn’t ask them.


Today was Errol’s first day of horseback riding – or hippotherapy as they call it out here on the prairie. If a kid can’t walk, it’s hard to imagine them riding a horse, but that’s exactly what Errol did this morning. At 9:30 a.m. the bus pulled out from the Children’s Center with a load full of ropers and riders, some in wheelchairs, some deaf, and others blind, headed for the Riverwood Therapeautic Riding Center.


I don’t know if it’s the rythym of the horse, the balance the kids learn, or just the cool clothes they get to wear, but horseback riding is great therapy for disabled kids. Errol’s teacher had a student who couldn’t even sit up, and then aftrer a few months of therapy was standing. By golly, were getting squadron of pet ponies for our boy!


We were hoping to get to watch Errol’s debut in the saddle, but since a lot of the kids cry the first time they ride, we gave the little cowboys some space. Of course, there were no tears from little Errol Clifford who laughed the whole time he rounded up them doggies. We’ll be there next Tuesday to watch our little cow poke at home on the range. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Up up and away

We're working on a new word with Errol: 


When we get Errol out of his wheelchair we say, 
"Errol, do you want to get up? Up? Up? UhhhhhhhhhP!"
And we throw our arms up in the air above our heads. Three points!
We repeat ourselves and the field goal motion and we repeat ourselves again until Errol signs back to us: field goal!

It's working. We've been doing this for three days and around 327 points and Errol is making the up sign back to us more and more. He's even making a vaguely "uuhhhhh" sound. 
We are so proud of our little man.

Errol works so hard and slowly by slowly he is learning.

Next stop:


There is a new poll below. Vote for change. 



So we had a poll about what Errol's actual name is and there was a three way tie for first.

The winners were:
Little Man
Caesar Augustus

Max lost.

I think we'll need to have another poll. Or maybe not.
I asked Errol what he thinks. He smiled. I think he likes his name. It's grown on me.
Errol it is. 

There is a new poll below. Vote for change.