Aidan's Way: The Story of a Boy's Life and a Father's Journey

Aidan's Way: The Story of a Boy's Life and a Father's Journey

by Sam T. Crane, George T. Crane, Sam Crane
     
 

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This life we’re given comes in its own season and then follows its vanishing away. If you’re at ease in your season, if you can dwell in its vanishing, joy and sorrow never touch you. This is what the ancients called getting free.

…Aidan’s crisis had liberated me in a way. We had come close to death, had looked over the edge of the precipice, and then moved back. He

Overview

This life we’re given comes in its own season and then follows its vanishing away. If you’re at ease in your season, if you can dwell in its vanishing, joy and sorrow never touch you. This is what the ancients called getting free.

…Aidan’s crisis had liberated me in a way. We had come close to death, had looked over the edge of the precipice, and then moved back. He would die at some point, perhaps young, maybe very young. He was profoundly disabled, even more so than he had been before. But his near-death had altered my vision. The length of his life or the physical particulars of his life were not as important as the mere fact of his life itself. He was following along in his own season, moving on the currents of the Way.…

I could feel myself starting to get free. —From Aidan’s Way

Sam Crane, a professor of Asian Studies, has to cope with more than he ever imagined when his son Aidan is born with severe disabilities. Turning to the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu—he comes to understand Aidan. Gradually, we become aware of Aidan’s profound impact on others, including his father, his family and the larger community.

Aidan’s Way is an endlessly inspiring account of parental love and devotion, of the lessons of ancient eastern philosophy and of what it means, ultimately, to be human.

About the Author: Sam Crane is the Chair of the Department of Asian Studies at Williams College; he has written scholarly books and articles as well as numerous articles in the popular press, such as the New York Times and Salon.com on his son Aidan. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An Asian studies professor at Williams College, Crane mines his academic field to tell the story of his profoundly disabled son's life, unpacking a grab-bag of Asian philosophy and its relationship to his son's humanity and worth. Despite some excessively formal passages and, alternately, overly emotional, cliche-laden writing, this book will ring true for parents dealing with similar situations. Crane's thesis that "disabled people are not marginal to the human experience; they are central to it, for without them there could be no definition of ability," while not novel, is a stimulating addition to the public debate over the rights of the disabled. Crane's son, Aidan, has suffered from seizures since he was 10 days old, and at age seven he "still could not walk or talk or see. His abilities were closer to those of a three-month-old infant." The author recounts the many years of doctor visits and the frustrations and triumphs he and his wife experience as they attempt to give their child meaningful care, and philosophical discussions of Tao Te Ching and the Book of Changes, as well as other texts, relieve the repetitive litany of seizure episodes and the tedious minute-by-minute descriptions of Aidan's medical care. Parents of the disabled will find much to identify with in this upbeat and hopeful memoir. Agent, Dorian Karchmar. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This is not the first book by a scholar-father to ponder what it means to raise a special-needs child in an unforgiving world. In Life as We Know It, Michael Berube also asks troubling questions and uses his academic specialty to formulate answers. While Berube relies on his background in history and the philosophy of Western civilization, Crane (Asian studies, Williams Coll.) draws on Eastern philosophy, particularly the Tao Te Ching, to examine how he and his wife cope with the mental and physical disabilities of their first child, Aidan (his condition is unknown). Crane is more conversational than Berube; he describes the technical details of Aidan's condition in the simplest terms, effectively explaining Aidan's various seizures, and he is more positive than Berube. Crane admits great pain and sadness on his part but acknowledges that the world is perhaps a little kinder to our special children than it was in the past. A nice addition to larger parenting, health, and disability collections.-KellyJo Houtz Griffin, Eatonville, WA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Loving expression of profound gratitude to the author’s severely disabled son, from whom he has learned unexpected lessons about life.

Never scanting the heartaches and medical emergencies, never maudlin or under any illusions about outcome, Crane nonetheless finds affirmation and comfort in accepting what good can be gleaned from his family’s heartbreak. Aidan appeared normal when he was born in western Massachusetts. But ten days later, he developed seizures that affected his breathing, was rushed to hospital and placed in the pediatric ICU, the first of the countless anguished medical emergencies. A CAT scan revealed that his brain was malformed; although outwardly normal, he would never speak, see, or walk. Sam, a professor of Asian Studies at a nearby university, and Maureen, a trained nurse, learned how to medicate their son’s seizures, exercise his limbs, and give him as many rewarding experiences as they could. They decided to have another child despite the risks, but shortly after Margaret was born healthy and normal, Aidan suffered a massive grand mal seizure so damaging that he will always have to be fed by a tube and can no longer kick or coo as he once did. While Aidan endured these endless traumas, Sam began studying anew the Chinese classics he taught, looking for wisdom that might apply to their situation. The philosopher Chuang Tzu offered him the most persuasive solace: "all lives are contingent and limited . . . we never find all that we are looking for [and] cannot escape death." Comforted, Sam began to appreciate all that Aidan would not have to experience in his life and to acknowledge that, although his son’s existence had curtailed his travel, it had led him towrite and to enter local politics while seeking more funds for the school Aidan now attends.

One of those rare stories about family tragedy: both remarkably perceptive and lacking in self-pity.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781570719035
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
11/01/1902
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.96(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.11(d)

Meet the Author

Sam Crane is Chair of the Department of Asian Studies at Williams College. He has written scholarly books and articles, as well as numerous articles in the popular press, such as the New York Times and Salon.com on his son Aidan. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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