February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAAIM). Each Friday in February, MY Jewish Buffalo’s community spotlight will introduce you to an individual who embodies the values of JDAAIM. This is a project of the Center for Jewish Engagement and Learning’s Belonging Initiative. Today, we’re thrilled to share some words from Vickie Rubin.
My late Mom was a big fan of my writing and said, “You should write a book.” But, at the time, I was too busy to write a book. I had a full-time job, three kids, and three dogs at home. Jessica, our eldest daughter, has multiple disabilities and needed help at home with every daily life skill.
The years passed, and in 2016 I retired as the manager of Early Childhood Direction Center, part of Kaleida Health. My two younger children got married, and Jessica had already moved into her own house within two miles of our home (the first and so far, only Jewish Group Home in Buffalo).
Newly unemployed and with time on my hands led me to start writing. Every day for three years, I wrote. The result was the book called Raising Jess: A Story of Hope, due out 2021.
Unfortunately, as I was writing my book, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. After all the years, I finally did what she asked! And I loved every minute of it. Regretfully, it was too late to talk in-depth with Mom about the chapters and process.
Alzheimer’s limited my Mom’s ability to speak, yet her awareness of what was going on around her remained strong. As the writing process proceeded from one year to the next, we knew that our time with Mom was closing. So, my dad and I decided to read each completed chapter of the book to Mom. As I finished each section, I emailed the copy to my dad. The chapters were still raw, but I wanted Mom to know that I was working on this dream before it was too late.
At that point, I did not know if a publisher would accept the book or if I was writing for family history.
When the book was complete and accepted by the publisher, Dad put Mom on the phone. Talking on the phone with Mom was a part of my daily life before her illness. Mom’s speech and memory limited her ability to enjoy talking on the phone; it became too frustrating for her. So, chatting became a rarity. However, this time Mom spoke slowly and clearly and told me she loved the book! I wish I would have taped her review!
Our life raising Jess was different from many of our friends and neighbors. But different does not mean worse or sad; merely different. Our opportunities and experiences changed our lives for the better. The book: Raising Jess: A Story of Hope will be released in 2021 and is dedicated to my Mom and Jess.
I look forward to sharing our story with Jewish Buffalo.
On February 10 at 7:00 pm Vickie will share her story about the journey of Raising Jessica and being part of Buffalo’s Jewish Women’s Group Home. The CJEL Belonging event is free and pre-registration is available at bit.ly/raisingjessica
CJEL’s Belonging vision is for all Jews, their friends and Life partners of other faiths, and people exploring Judaism to feel welcome to participate in Jewish living and learning experiences to the extent of their abilities and interest, and to find a space of belonging in Jewish Buffalo regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ability.