Making It Not Quite On Our Own

I’m no Romney, but I’ve done well. Yes, I made my own money, or, as Mitt says, “Everything I earned I earned the old-fashioned way.” But without help? Not on your life. Sure, it was my math test results that got me my first job on Wall St., but my father introduced me to the people who gave me the test. Yes, I made money trading, but I was given the opportunity by others. And don’t discount the amount of luck involved, of being in the right place at the right time.

When it comes to Nate, Karen and I have been devoted to his growth and improvement, from the very first day we had an inkling that he was hyperlexic. But the very fact that Phyllis Kupperman, the national expert in hyperlexia, worked 30 minutes away from our suburban Chicago home, at The Center for Speech and Language Disorders in Elmhurst, had nothing to do with our effort or sense of responsibility. It was luck, the hand of God, whatever you prefer.

Moving to Cooperstown, leaving the fine schools of Lincolnshire behind, was a leap of faith, but we entered a district that was committed to Nate’s success. Mrs. Weir, his second and longest serving aide, was the perfect person for Nate, intensely devoted to him, quick to come to his defense and dedicated 100%. Again, luck.

And then when it was time to get ready for college, and Karen and I were looking at becoming Nate’s aides ourselves because there were no good candidates, from out of the blue came Elise, by way of Springbrook, and the die was cast. Three years later, Nate is a college graduate and it couldn’t have happened without Elise being dropped in our laps.

It’s always scary to shake up Nate’s support team and yet we’re here again. Elise has only limited time these days with a newborn and, though Nate is pretty settled, and we have great hopes for his strip mall art and Alpha Folks (, he needs a lot of work in becoming a social person, and though Karen and I once again talked about becoming his aides, working with him beyond our usual daily interaction to improve his skills, we know it’s better for Nate to have help. But where, and from whom?

And this morning Nate and I met with Alexis and it all feels good. She’s his age, has some shared interests, and is a wonderfully warm person. Nate got it right away, happily shaking her hand and saying (well, almost shouting), “You’re the same age as I am!”

Alexis at 22 and Nate at 22 are worlds apart. But that’s what makes this great. They have lived the same years; they know each other’s cultural touchstones. It feels like another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place.

Dedicated hard work on our part? Absolutely. Having opportunities come our way? Definitely. Luck? Oh yeah, lots and lots of luck.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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