What can I say about Eustacia Cutler? It is impossible to know Temple Grandin‘s story without intuitively knowing the strength, the dogged determination of the woman who never gave up on her daughter. Even if you knew nothing of Eustacia, her background, her own beautiful telling of her story, A Thorn in My Pocket, you would know her through Temple. And if you talk to Temple, you learn how much Temple herself is the product of an ethical, and maternal act of faith, in Temple’s inherent worth, autism and all. At a time science would have instructed her to abandon her child to an institution, she embarked on a deeply personal equivalent of the Apollo mission, sacrificing her own ambitions (which were many for a Harvard-educated young woman of the 50s), and focusing on Temple’s potential. How richly that journey has paid off – for Temple, and for all of us.
Temple Grandin honored her mother so beautifully at the Emmy Awards. Even those not entirely familiar with the autism story, or even the movie Temple Grandin, remember the moment when the lady in the cowboy gear brandished an Emmy statuette and gave her mom a shout out. It was an electrifying moment for autism moms. Those tributes to Eustacia Cutler have continued to flow since the Emmys. I wanted to be sure everyone has seen this one. In it, Julia Ormand, the actress who played Eustacia in the HBO movie, gives Eustacia her Emmy statuette at a conference last November. Noting that Eustacia had once hoped to be an actress, Ormand jokes that Eustacia can use the Emmy as a door stop. But then, unscripted, Ormand says: “I want you to have it for all the doors you have opened. I want you to have it for the thing you let go – that you gave to me.”
See video of Eustacia’s Tribute to all mothers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ykBWPpHDsc
Ormand’s explanation of an autism mom’s sacrifices is a restatement of a code we all are familiar with, as autism moms. “This mother met the challenges of motherhood with such courage. She did not attempt to be her kid’s best friend. She said ‘I’m here to give you boundaries. I’m here to do the tough stuff so you can walk through life empowered.” Eustacia, in accepting the award, drives the point home. “This is for all the mothers who work in silence. Autism is a family disorder — everyone is affected.”
Eustacia, thank you for joinning us in Vancouver. We can’t wait to welcome our favorite mom – and to be warmed by your triumph.