Chapter 9: Reflections on Life and Career
12:04:59:14 - 12:07:07:27
Lisa: What do you think has been the most challenging thing about having a child with a disability?
Lizzie: Well, service...You're advocating for service all the time. You really want to make service, and a lot of things, you know, just change your whole lifestyle around. You know, you're advocating, and a lot of times you wouldn't have to be involved. But if you have a child like that, you have to be involved. You have to be involved with the system. You have to answer questions, you have to bring up paperwork and that sort of thing. And it's routine. You know, it's just like routine, you know, and but once you get past that, and I see how much he have improved at this point, and how easy along to get with, what he doing, it's all worth it. I see other children, parents. Ms. Lewis, I used to help her, and her child didn't -- different programs, services, and her daughter didn't fit into it. And here's what I told Ms. Lewis. I said, Ms. Lewis, you know what your child can do better than I do. Now yes, I'm going to help you, but what do you want me to do?
And she said, and she told me, and I talked with her about three different things. She said, you never try to push nothing on me. Said, you always ask me what do I want with my child, and that's what you support. Like she -- we were doing fundraising, and she couldn't sell things and do fundraising, and I wanted her to come to the luncheon.
And what I did, sit down with her, and she says she will donate. I said, no problem, you donate the money, and nobody at this table would never give you nothing to sell. It worked, and she was able to participate in the luncheon. You know, you find a way. Whatever they tell you, you find a way. But whatever they tell me, you find a way. Nobody knows that but us. I don't tell nobody else, and I sit to the table, know everybody's personal problems. Talk all day and all night long, and never mention people's personal problems. They told me. They probably just wanted a signing board.
It was not for me to repeat, and I didn't.
12:07:07:28 - 12:08:35:20
Lisa: So that's what I wanted to ask you, actually, what it is about Darryl that brings you joy.
Lizzie: Yeah, Darryl enjoy going out to eat, Darryl like to go to his room, he likes to be --time out.
Here's what we do.
I'll be downstairs, taking it easy, and he wants to be upstairs taking it easy.
So we both give each other the time alone. We cook. We eat. We go out to eat.
One time I took him to the movie, and he sit two rows behind me, because he don't want nobody to find out he was sitting with his mother.
He sit two rows behind me at the movie.
But when we got ready to go to Popeyes, he's right with me eating, you know.
But I enjoy him, you know, and I learn a lot of how to deal with it and adjust to it, and helping other people really helps me with Darryl, too.
You know, you want the best for your child, and you're going to do what you have to do, and I never -- as I said, I never put the family through anything, and I've always took it in stride, and did what I had to do.
And I never dreaded doing it, you know.
I was contented doing it, and it didn't bother me, because I knew that if I worked hard, he would change.
But when he did go to the residential placement, I wanted his behavior to be together, so that he would have a smooth sail there.
And that's where we all worked on it.
12:08:35:20 - 12:10:05:12
Lisa: Ms. Richardson, you had two children who, in some ways, were on the opposite ends of the spectrum -- one child gifted, one child with a disability.
Lizzie: You got it, right, yes I did.
Lisa: What was that experience like, parenting for you?
Lizzie: Well, the one that gifted was -- I've seen her order a computer, in a box, and put it together. Computer said congratulations, good job, and from day one, I kept her in good schools so that she could motivate herself. And we would talk and like I - like different... she always could talk. We would talk and everything, and I wanted her to have the best and I wanted him to have the best, but I worked with each child's needs, is what I worked with each child on, and that's what I did. And it didn't -- it really didn't bother me, because everybody that worked with us accepted Darryl, even my block. For example, my block. They always have treated Darryl nice, and I always treated the small children nice, and to the day, on my steps the children could sit on because I'm not going to be hard with children. And I love children, and that's how we do it. They treat Darryl nice. They never, ever had disrespected him. They treat him nice because I treat him nice, and I treat -- also treat them nice. I don't run in and out of their house and I don't tend to their business, and that's what they like.
12:10:05:12 - 12:12:00:12
Lisa: Ms. Richardson, how would you describe yourself?
Lizzie: Well I hope that -- I know that I can drive some strong bargains when I know I'm right.
I find myself not backing down on nothing if I'm right. No, I'm not going to do that and I'm going do -- I know that this is right. But when I do that, a peace like come over you, and that's when you get the nice, and that's when your voice get the calmness. You know, if I'm angry I can cover it up. The next person will never know it. You know, because that's when you build a shield around you, a mental shield around you, to protect you, and you never get hurt in what you're doing, no matter how hard it is. And you're happy doing what you're doing. You don't let it set -- you separate it, and I go home, forget all about it, and I'm going on eating and enjoying myself, and I'm not thinking about it. I don't think about it. But you always need help. Peoples come in, they offer you help, and you accept it. If they got some good advice for you, you also accept that. And you always treat people with dignity and respect. Like I want to be respected, you want to be respected. Go ahead, treat you that way if you would treat me that way, and that's how it is, you know? And we all -- it's different ways in the world, and everybody have a way. And you just get used to learn their personal ways and work with the person, not try to change them. Because you can't change anybody. And that's another thing. A lot of people try to change other people. You can't change peoples, you can't change them. You got to find a way to work with them, without changing them.
12:12:00:12 - 12:13:34:13
Lisa: What are you proudest of in your life?
Lizzie: Well, I'm just proud of my life that I have been truthful and honest, and I have helped a lot of people, motivated a lot of people, and peoples have motivated me. And I look back at my girlfriend, we went to school together in grade school, and when I go South, we still the best of friends, and nobody can ever believe that. Said I can't believe you grew up together, and you're still good friends. We are, you know, and that's how it is. You know, I'm just happy with my life, because I'm contented. You know, I'm contented with it. You know, I guess working with different peoples, helping with peoples and doing different things, you're just not sitting in the house, just not doing nothing and worrying about everything. You're out doing what you like to do, and I Iike to be out talking, and working with peoples, and doing whatever you need to do. And you know, and I'm happy when I see a parent that I've helped, move into that leadership and doing a good job. I'm very happy with that. You know, so I am. You know, I want all the parents to do good, and I want everybody to have service. And that's one thing that I learned too, I want everybody -- I don't want nobody to just go without service that they need.
12:13:34:13 - 12:14:37:16
Lisa: Ms. Richardson, how would you like to be remembered?
Lizzie: Well I don't know. I would like be remembered as a caring person, that, you know, like that, you know, and I'm not selfish at all. Not trying to hurt anybody, but I will help you. You know, if I can help you, I will do whatever I can for you. And when I help you, like this little girl that I give things to is -- my niece told me, I helped raise her, and she always says, she says Aunt Lizzie, you helped raise her. She said, well here's what I'd like for you to say. I tell her, you don't owe me anything for help raising you. All I want you to do is have a good life, and she said -- she said, that means a lot to me. She don't owe me nothing, because she didn't ask me to do for her. I did for her because I wanted to and I cared about it. She don't owe me anything. Take her family, her grandchildren, and enjoy life. But when I need her to drive me somewhere, ask her to do it, she'll do it, and that's it.
12:14:37:16 - 12:17:24:19
Lisa: One last question. Are there any words of wisdom you'd like to pass on to other families?
Lizzie: I'd like to pass on to families that work with everybody and get educated and learn this system. And know how to talk to peoples, know when to talk, when not to talk, and work closer with people, just care about other people, other than yourself. I know -- and I think that's what I would like to give to the parent. And then for the parent, I would like to say, learn all you can, and you never know it all, and it's always something that you can learn.
Lisa: We pretty much got through it. Is there anything you want to add?
We've got a few minutes --
Lizzie: I guess not, but I just -- you know, if I didn't enjoy what I was doing, I wouldn't do it.
You know, I wouldn't do it. But see, I care about other people, and I know other people. Like little girl, the granddaughter, I give her things, so that when she goes to that classroom, and she go on a class trip, it makes her feel good that she can go on that class trip like her classmate. What that do is to build that self-esteem up, is what it do. You know? Like... something like that. That helps her grow, to be the young hopeful, to be the young leader that she should be, and it just build up that self-esteem and that self confidence in herself, and that -- never feel beneath anyone. You're just as good as anybody else would, and that's my teaching. You know? And that's it.
More Interview Chapters
About Lizzie Richardson
Born: 1937, Smithfield, North Carolina
Parent, Advocate, Board Member North Central Services
Mentoring, Parents, Services, Waiting List