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"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 ...
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"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 was unprepared to be the father of Aidan, a boy who would never walk, talk or see. 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.
"Aidan's Way is the rare personal account that should resonate with any reader....By telling his story simply, beautifully and bravely, Crane challenges us to question the criteria by which we judge everything in this world."-Chicago Tribune
"One of the rare stories about family tragedy: both remarkably perceptive and lacking in self-pity."-Kirkus Reviews
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.
|1.||Difficulty at the Beginning||5|
|3.||The Knowing Are Never Learned||58|
|4.||Moving as One and the Same||85|
|5.||Being the Child||118|
|6.||The Human Realm||143|
|7.||The Form of this Body||170|
|8.||The Farther You Go, the Less You Know||201|
Posted October 29, 2002
Every now and then a book comes along that wakes us out of our drab routine lives and makes us reevaluate essential questions: what is important? Am I doing something worthwhile with my life? What is life's meaning? Trite as it may sound, "Aidan's Way" does just that, but in a way that is subtle and avoids self-indulgent breast-beating. At its core, "Aidan's Way" is a resounding affirmation of life. Sam and Maureen Crane are the parents of Aidan, who is profoundly retarded mentally--he cannot walk, talk or see. At every turn, they face the possibility that he may die. Pneumonia assaults his lungs and grand mal seizures force him to rely on a feeding tube for sustenance. Adversaries come in human guise as well, with the Cranes heroically combating outrageous abuses by their HMO, doctors stereotyping Aidan as "one of THOSE kids," and a heartbreaking moment of frustration when an indecisive nurse fails to administer a drug in time to stop Aidan's seizures from permanently damaging his already fragile brain. There are heroes, too--a doctor with cerebral palsy who doggedly probes the causes of Aidan's condition while others write him off, a younger sister who brings hope and joy to the family, and countless therapists, journalists, and teachers. Aidan touches hundreds of people. There is even an amusing vignette about Aidan's role in a row involving his father and, of all people, the Singaporean Prime Minister. Crane's prose is saturated with vivid imagery and he effectively conveys both the heart-rending pain and sheer joy that is Aidan's way. Drawing upon ancient Chinese texts, particularly the Tao Te Ching and the writings of Chuang Tzu, Crane explores the lessons that Aidan offers to all who come in contact with him. We, the readers, follow Crane's journey as he struggles with ideas of science, human worth and purpose, and the dichotomy of active, rational analysis and intervention, and passive being. All in all, an inspiring book by a talented writer who has obviously poured into his words not only his heart, but also that of his son's.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.