Wayne’s World: A Moment You Never Saw Coming

This is our first regular column from Wayne Chan, a Poway resident who will write about family and community life and share humorous insights into hot topics.

Let me guess. Think of times in your life when you have felt immense joy. What comes to mind first would probably be the obvious times – your wedding, the birth of your first child, maybe some adventure of some sort.

Wayne Chan

(Courtesy picture)

But think a little deeper. I guess some of the biggest highlights of your life were things that came out of the blue, things that weren’t expected. It’s like all those videos of families overwhelmed with joy when their enlisted child comes home to surprise them. It is pure happiness.

It’s a moment you never saw coming.

As the parent of triplets, two of whom have developmental disabilities, my wife and I are often surprised. Unfortunately, most of our surprises are the kind you’d rather forget.

But once in a while, something can happen that changes the way you look at life. It was one of those times.

Ethan and Savannah, two of our triplets, have autism. Except for a few words – “Thank you”, “Yes”, “No” and “Eat” they are mostly non-verbal. My wife, Maya, and I, along with our other son, Tyler, listen to their body language to know what they want without them having to say a word.

For much of the past 20 years, my main responsibility was to drive them back and forth to their special school and other appointments. To pass the time on the commute, I listened to podcasts, ’70s “Yacht” rock, and most often the music of John, Paul, George, and Ringo – the Beatles.

So, one weeknight, I saw that a local venue was headlining a Beatles tribute band. I thought it would be a nice respite from our usual weeknight. But, to get there, I had to take our three kids to the show since Maya was out of town.

I knew Tyler would like it, but to be honest, I only took Ethan and Savannah because tickets were cheap and I had no one to watch them at home. They had never shown any interest in The Beatles that I could tell.

I thought it would just be a nice night out with the kids while mom was away on business.

When the show started, Savannah started nodding, got up and started dancing and singing – she knew the lyrics to “Hey Jude”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Yesterday” and many others. She sang with many songs, with a big smile on her face.

Tyler and I were on either side of her and we continued to stare at her in amazement.

For 20 years I had been playing this music in the car and never had a response from Ethan or Savannah. I assumed they didn’t care or just didn’t understand the concept of music. I was wrong.

And the moment I never saw coming was when she started singing the lyrics to “Blackbird.”

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night – take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you have only waited for this moment to arise.

To paraphrase another famous Beatles song, Savannah took a sad song and made it better.

Elizabeth J. Harless