On Being Different ... A Life Profile

Each day is part of a pattern. No two days are ever the same … yet the pattern of each day is identical.

Hello … my name is Jim Hill. I was born on September 21st 1940 at Frontier, Saskatchewan, Canada. The doctor who delivered me was renowned Doctor Murdock O’Brien ( Robert Tyre’s "Saddlebag Surgeon"). I was born … different !!

The dictionary defines the word "different "as being without like or equal … unique (varying from the usual or ordinary) …outside of that which is the accepted norm.

I was born with a cleft palate … a partial harelip … without supporting cheek bones … eyes that drooped ( my eyes could not completely close)… moderate hearing loss in the left ear and severe loss in the right ear … a moderate stiffness of the back and hands.

At age three I had surgery to repair the cleft palate. At age nine I was told I would soon be blind and underwent extensive re-constructive surgery of the cheek bones and the harelip. I could now completely close my eyes.

In most ways my childhood was a normal one. I was a better than average student and at an early age I developed a natural flair for creative writing. I was a published poet and author by age twelve. I played most sports … had a special way with animals … I was physically strong and healthy … I developed an infectious sense of humor.

My teen years were more difficult. I became somewhat of a loner and a rebel … I wasn’t actually anti-social and never really mean but I did establish barriers and I was reluctant to let anyone get too close to me. My biggest problem was my reflection in the mirror and my natural tendency toward sensitivity. I pushed people away … especially girls. I rationalized my attitude by instilling a conviction within myself that no one could possibly ever love me. Being a healthy red blooded male did not make it easy. I was often unhappy and miserable.

After finishing high school and turning thumbs down on college ( my rebel years ) I decided I definitely wanted a country lifestyle. My parents were from farming backgrounds … I had a special feeling for nature and as I mentioned earlier, I was good with animals. My dad had been born in Indiana ( harness horse racing country … home state of the legendary pacer Dan Patch) and along with the fact that his two brothers were pursuing careers in the sport of harness racing, made my decision to go in that direction a natural one. I became a breeder, owner, trainer and driver. I liked the exciting atmosphere, traveling and though I was reluctant to admit it, I liked people.

I was thirty years old when I met the woman who would become my wife. We became good friends. However my reflection in the mirror … my inner fears … my protective barriers were a problem. I sought out a plastic surgeon and set the stage for "creating a face that would be worthy of love". The first step was getting a clean bill of health from a psychiatrist (I knew I was of sound mind ). The surgical procedure was straight forward … however my immune system rejected every attempt at implant technique.

Then my nephew was born … with Treacher Collins Syndrome. At thirty five years of age I was given the name of the monstrous indignity I had been born with. I now knew something about my affliction … I now knew I wasn’t alone. It was of some comfort … but not enough … I still kept my barriers … only my wife knew my innermost feelings.

In the proceeding years I was able to channel my energy into a more productive lifestyle. I gave my sense of humor free rein and became more involved with people. I have always had a special affinity with children and I allowed that affinity to grow.

In the early spring of l999 I typed Treacher Collins Syndrome into a search engine on the computer ( I had been procrastinating for some time ) and I found Amie Osborn.

Since then I have found a new sense of orderliness and understanding. I have begun to let go of more of my frustration and anger. I have broken down some of my self made barriers. I realize now, that my dad had Treacher Collins Syndrome in a mild form … what ancestor before him … I don’t know.

On the wall of my den above my desk hangs a framed picture of a kitten looking into a mirror and seeing it’s reflection as a huge lion. The caption reads " What matters most is how you see yourself ". At the bottom are the words of Francis Thompson ….. " To believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief … to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything ".

If you'd like to email Jim, here's his address:  jvhill@xplornet.com

Also, check out his website:  Believing in Belief