Born in the year 1953, to Marie and Antonio, in a time much different from today. A time not marred by incessant crime, violence, greed, financial scandals and sexual immorality. Upon birth, baby Anthony was faced with many challenges, and he certainly needed both parents to survive.
Two and a half months premature and weighing barely 2.0 lbs., Anthony literally fit in the hand of his father. But, with that early entrance into life, several physical and mental challenges manifested that proved difficult for the mainstream society to understand. On the contrary, his parent's understood that little Anthony was a gift from the Lord, despite his diagnosis of being 'brain damaged' or mentally retarded, as his condition was frequently referred to.
When doctors, experts, family, and friends suggested the best course of action for this baby would be an institution, the parents said “No.” They decided early on to love, provide for, and raise this baby as any loving parent would. He was their firstborn.
Over the years, Marie and Antonio researched schools in the area that would be advantageous for learning. Yes, he was able to attend a local elementary school that had Special Education classes beginning in Kindergarten. As he grew older, he survived bouts of asthma and pneumonia, and his parents began to obtain information regarding his future educational possibilities.
When Anthony was about twelve, he was accepted into the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy School for Exceptional Children located in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. This private school, established in the late 1940's, continues to offer vocational training and life skills for “trainable mentally handicapped” youth through age 21. Upon leaving this boarding school, the expectation is that a person would be able to live decently and earn a living.
Incredibly, that is just what Anthony did. After spending nearly several years at this boarding school, with visits from his family on weekends, Anthony learned much. A few of his accomplishments include: Developing a style of penmanship that rivals most 'normal' people, being able to balance a checkbook and maintain a bank account, paying bills and calculating batting averages in baseball, riding the bus and train in many areas of the city, including downtown Chicago, washing and ironing his own clothes, learning to prepare foods, clean and sanitize foods.
When Anthony turned 19 years old, his grandest achievement was receiving his High School Diploma. What an exciting time and His parents had a party!! Those that thought he could never learn had to retract their words.
In his early twenties, he began work as a messenger (or runner) for a blueprint firm in the Chicago area. He walked from one office building to another, in all types of weather, remaining there for nearly ten years. Later, Anthony worked in the Public School system as a porter and cafeteria helper in three different high schools over a period of 25 years.
Recently retired, Anthony continues to bless everyone he meets. He's an avid sports fan, especially baseball, and truly enjoys the times his nephew – on a baseball scholarship in college – plays the sport. In addition, he cooks tasty meals for his sister and brother-in-law, plays trivia games, Scrabble, crossword puzzles, and takes daily walks. He is a regular bowler and is currently in a league.
The most important thing one can say about Anthony is that he is saved. He knows Jesus as His Lord and Savior, and despite some continuing health issues and having to take medications, he believes God's word on healing.
Yes, sometimes Anthony rambles on in a conversation, and, yes, sometimes people get a 'little annoyed by his questions and repeating' of certain topics. Needless to say, he is someone to love, admire, and learn from.
Jesus said in Matt 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. Anthony has taught me much about patience, humility, and serving, because --- Anthony is my brother.
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