© 1999-2006

Going On Oprah The Untold Story

Get ready, this is a long letter, I have a lot to say. Many things which are not in the book. Why? Because my son originally was very uncomfortable for people to know about his “struggles and disabilities”, because to him they do not exist, and he only sees his abilities. I am blessed to have such a wonderful, magical son, who in his belief of all that is good in Life has inspired me to never look back. To continually renew my strength, to overcome the ravages of Life, and to gracefully and relentlessly prevail.

Zachary only agreed that I tell the rest of our story here, so that other children may be inspired, and strictly for no other reason. I know I have learned so very much from the unfathomable and unstoppable strength of this little boy. Not once, ever, has he felt anything like being sorry for himself. While the book goes very far and intimately into our lives, you will never really know us until I tell you about the other details I am about to write here, for the very first time.

Since that difficult time in 1998 I have come to share peace with Zach’s mom with decency between us. Zachary had some early physical difficulties. First his legs were not forming properly and he needed to wear special leg braces for the first two years, or so, of his life. Then at the age of 26 months, after a hearing test it was discovered that little Zachie was severely hearing impaired, and over the next months would come to further lose 90% of his hearing into the range known as profound hearing loss. Zachary had lost almost completely his ability to hear. What was more extraordinary was that the Children’s Hospital realized that Zachary was making up his own complex language.

A Beautiful Little Birdie Song

Zachary had never heard a bird sing until his first hearing aid fitting, at 28 months. I remember that day. I helped put in his hearing aids, for the first time. It was a sunny morning in June of 1997. We came to a very old pear tree and as if just for Zachie a bird sang so cheerfully and wonderfully and for such a long time, just there on a branch near us. I remember the awe and joy on his beaming face, hearing the bird for the first time. Together we stood for this magnificent concert. Zachary was so struck and happy. The appreciation of what was happening brought tears to my eyes. In a few minutes a jet came overhead, and a startled Zachie looked around for that new noise, and so many others were filling his mind’s curiosity. To witness that newness, something in me changed that day.

I became diligent and determined that I would search for all the research that was available anywhere in the world. I received resources from all over the world, including from the John Tracy Clinic in LA, named after the son of the late actor, Spencer Tracy. Their giant manual of hearing and speech research, teaching techniques and information was free. That is one of the reasons why some of the proceeds that we receive from the book go directly to charity, to return something to the resources that helped us in those seemly devastating times. We contribute 15% of the author royalties to programs for the homeless and for children. We feel very fortunate to be able to give something of ourselves back. Appreciation can change everything in a life.

For almost a solid year, I searched for answers and solutions on how to help my son, little Zachie. Others viewed me as the cause of his hearing loss, and that many of my methods of searching and healing as fully foolish. I accept being further the fool for my son any day. The research paid off. Simply, I learned that I just needed to engage Zachary in speech and reading as much as possible before his hearing possibly completely ceased. So we shared and developed a love for books and reading. Zachary is now 10 years old, in 2005, and boy does he love to read. Often, two to three books a day. He likes to sometimes tell me that his books are bigger than mine.

What is even more extraordinary is that as I write this today, this very morning (Sept. 29, 2005) we had one of our regular appointments at the speech and hearing clinic with Zachary as part of ongoing monitoring of his hearing levels, in the possibility of cochelear nerve implants. I feel compelled to write to you today even more after this morning’s report from the audiologist who tested Zachary, both in hearing aided and unaided results. Zachary still has an approximate 90% total hearing loss. I have heard this before, but this miracle has even a deeper impact on me now. The audiologist says that Zachary’s hearing loss is so severe that he can not be expected to engage in speech or communication with others, such as in a school setting.

But he does, and does he ever!

Not only does Zachary (Grade 5) read at a level of a college student, he also reads and fluently speaks another language, French so well that his teachers are astounded by his level of competence. Naturally, he also lip reads... so be careful, ha ha.

In this sense he really is a miracle boy, not only because together we were able to overcome these obstacles, but especially I am in awe of the fact that Zachary has never, ever complained or felt sorry for himself, ever. He is well spoken, confident and his teachers say that he does not have conflict with any of his classmates, ever, not once in his six years at immersion school. Actually, a few teachers have said that Zachary is the most extraordinary student they have ever had. Zachary always extends a hand to the other students, especially those who are just getting new hearing aids themselves.

Since Zachary was two, even when we lived on the street, we went to the public library every single day. He wanted to study all the great thinkers, plus Spanish and Japanese, and still does. All the early reading and speech work that we, and others who helped with speech therapy have given Zachary a chance to have a truly great and happy childhood. He is such a happy, bright light to all those around him.

This is why I never quit, and even more than that - I have, ‘screwed my courage to the sticking post’ of taking good action and no matter how hard it has gotten in the past, because of this special soul, whose life I have been entrusted with, I can always find another way... always, one more way - for when I believe - the forces really help me out. I just gotta pay attention. We must always find a way in life, to keep filled the well of hope for our children and their children.

Zachary told me once when he was three years old that, ‘Dad you’re the only one who let’s me have my own thinking, and I chose you to be my Dad before I was born because of what you can teach me.’ Who is really teaching whom here? Our children are such precious, precious souls. We must awaken ourselves to life’s miracle.

By now you may also know that in 1998 when we had lost our farm and everything financially, that little three year old Zachary had said something so extraordinary to me, that I was able to, from his few words, out of my depths of swirling blackness, suddenly come back and pull myself into the light in an instant, to start to rebuild our lives from nothing. That is the power of the proverbial mustard seed. It was that day that I knew and felt the hand of God come down and touch my soul, for it was my own openness and surrender that allowed it to become so.

100 Days of Love book excerpt, page 18-19

Time to Dig Deeper and Get Real

It all started just after we lost everything material including our farm, forced to the street. Through it now, I do not feel that it would truly be fair to call ourselves homeless. Living in an old van for several months on the street, while without a house to go to, is not, in my mind the same degree of homelessness as other decent folks we met - who often suffer in a more severe way. We did not feel destitute, just in a severe transition. Maybe we are blessed, or just lucky that not enough time could pass before our luck changed again.

Despair Turns Into Extended Camping

We often would go the the local supermarket to get food off the sampling trays. We had to push the van up and down the street so that it wouldn’t get noticed and towed away. We had no insurance or gas money and so we did not drive anywhere unless it was critical. We walked, and I had a child back pack to carry little Zachary.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

It is devastating for a man when he loses the ability to provide and care for his family. In this haze I do remember one event so very vividly, it was a crisp, sunny day, and we were in the old Dodge. I was feeling so alone and helpless, and wondering so many questions. How we had gotten there, where were we going? I started to cry and l’il Zachie put his tiny hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s okay Dad, just pretend we’re camping, it’s okay.”

I was struck by lightning!

The deep effect those simple words had were extraordinary. If I had heard correctly, and I had, my three year old son just asked me to simply change my perspective. Wow, I see it even more clearly today!

The Adventure Guys Collect Seeds

From that moment on, we decided that instead we were adventure guys, and adventure guys make a plan! So we talked about it. Zachie said he was so little what could he do? I said we will collect pop bottles and cans, lots and lots and lots of them together, okay? Zachie, said I can sure do that with you Dad! So we created a system of how to collect cans for today and tomorrow. I knew from experience that if we spent all the money we collected that we would simply waste what could be crucial seeds for the future. It is what it is... or is it?

(We went on the collect bottles and cans, and saving 15% aside we accumulated $480 in several months and then turned that into over $100,000 cash in eight and a half months... the exciting rest of the story is in the book - with more details on the Babylonian system used to break a slave’s indenture, and the way that we did exactly that - see it all the Q & A section in the 14 pages of the Media Kit downloadable on this website under Media Kit or at the same button at;