My dad, James Whitmore, Thirteen

I’m leaving India, the streets of Teheran and the ambassador’s daughter for a second.

I want to talk a bit about my two sons and what my dad did for them. They are Brennan and Sean. We will start with Brennan.

He was born premature. I forget how early but early enough that they placed him in a neonatal intensive care unit. He was tiny. Now some hard facts: My wife had been on a cocaine bender several months prior to pregnancy and I was a sober alcoholic, 10 years sober at the time.

He was a preemy, as they are called. He made it through the tough times and was a grand baby boy. He’s easy to love. Years ahead proved tougher.

School was impossible. I would ask him “what do you like the best about school?” His answer, “ the way home.” I was told that he had severe learning disabilities. I didn’t believe them. “Bullshit,” I thought. “They don’t know what they are talking about.”

I had him tested by the best professionals in the business. This little six-year old boy was questioned, given tests and more. He was exhausted at the end. I held him and told him I loved him more than life itself.

The phone rang one night in the kitchen of the townhouse I was renting. I picked up the phone and got my answer. I was told he had severe learning disabilities, such as Attention Deficit Disorder and other idiotic technical names. I wept. Cried like never before.

My fantasy of street life and girls and drink, music and the lost ideal caused my boy to be significantly challenged. What a spoiled brat I had been and was.

What do you do? Public schools are lagging behind this challenge. Not their fault, really. Too many students.

The professionals suggested a school that was geared for such students. one was mentioned as the best, Frostig, in Pasadena, California. That was great, I thought. I was publishing a paper in La Canada, California, close enough, I thought.

Couple of problems. Enrollment was full and the cost was incredibly steep: $30,000 a semester. I didn’t have that.

In steps pop. He offers the school a scholarship and he will pay the tuition. They accepted. Brennan went to Frostig. He played sports, he acted in plays, put on school activities and made friends. Friends he still has today. He graduated with high marks.

He applied to one college, California Lutheran University, and got accepted. He then went on to graduate from that college, again with high marks and now is working as an editor.

Please understand something: My dad paid for all of this. He paid for Frostig, $30,000 a year. He paid for CalLutheran. Forgive me, I forget the cost for CLU, but it was significant. My dad allowed my son to become the 28-year-old man he is today. That’s the real deal.

You did it, pop. I miss you and I thank you.


About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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One Response to My dad, James Whitmore, Thirteen

  1. Bill McSweeney says:

    Hi Steve. I guess I’m sorry about your divorce.

    I’d like your input on something.

    Can I have your email address

    Thanks, Bill McSweeney

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