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After my show on October 23 with Maggie Lynn Heron -Heidel and Peg Heron -Heidel I received a message from Tim Connelly, a very dear friend of both Peg and Maggie. After several messages back and forth I decided this would be a perfect time to introduce my audience to someone who makes this world a better place. Tim has gone through many trial and tribulations but he refuses to look at himself as a person that can't do things and that is what I found to be so unique. He lives his life with strength and courage.
Meet Tim Connelly - as he sees himself! I for one am so happy to be the one to introduce you to a very special man!
For more info about Tim from his own blog
I’m Tim Connelly, although my nom du plum is T. Garth Connelly. There’s an amusing story as to why I chose to write under that name. It goes back to when I was an undergrad at Central Connecticut State University. It was the time when everyone was obsessed with being like what were labeled as “Preppies” (think of Thurston Howell, III and his wife, “Lovey” on Gilligan’s Island and you’ll get what a Preppy is/was). There was this certain young lady who I wanted to impress. The name “stuck” … and, I thought it sounded like an author’s name, along the lines of F. Scott Fitzgerald, so, I ran with it.
My first novel, The Bambi was “born” during that time as well. I was taking a writing class as an elective, and my professor was this Englishman named Norman Asbridge. He was a strange little man. He was small in stature and rather portly. At times, I thought he looked like a younger Winston Churchill. For some reason, Professor Asbridge took a liking to me. Although, later in life, when I’d vacation in London during the summers, I noted that the English were/are far more accepting of and treated disabled people like me far better than I have been and are accepted and treated than I am here in my homeland. His nickname for me was “You Nit” …
He had us write a short story. The previous week, I had watched the ABC mini-series, The Winds of War, and it gave me an idea. My sister had just married a man from a gated community on Cape Cod which was so exclusive that they blackballed “Papa Joe” or “Honey Fitz” Kennedy. I love PT boats and their history and exploits, so because I knew that men from the class of people who were from communities like that one, so, I decided to combine the two into a fictional story. In my mind, what would lend “realism” to it was that I knew there was a squadron of PTs which had the nickname of “the millionaires’ squadron” because many – if not all of its boat captains came from the upper class of American society, and interestingly, one of the officers came from the community that my sister had just married into. So, I wrote a story about an officer from this squadron and his love.
Well, Professor Asbridge graded the stories and handed them back to us. I received an A on it. When the class was letting out, Professor Asbridge said, “Mr. Connelly, if you would, please remain after class and follow me to my office.” I did. When we sat down in his office, he said with a smile, “You Nit. You’re a damned fine writer. Your story was great. You should consider expanding on it into a novel and having it published.”
That summer, one day I was bored, I took out my old trusty SMITH CORONA typewriter and started to transform it into a novel. For the next two summers, when that girl who I wanted to impressed would come to visit me on weekends, I’d let her read it. She loved it and kept telling me to get it published. I really wanted to but didn’t know how to. As an aside, the love interest in the story was modeled on her. By late 1983, I was deep into the story – but tragedy struck. I lost her in a car accident. At her Wake, I made a vow to her that, one day – I’d get the story published. From 1983 until around 2015 or 16, it went through years of sitting on my shelf to re-editing to going back on the shelf. Then, I found out about self-publishing and decided to finally get it into print to keep my promise to her. A woman who I had grown up with, a retired Army Major, proofed it for me and out it went. It is a special book for me inasmuch that, during its many re-edits, it had become a fictionalized telling of how she and I met.
My poetry. Ah, my poetry … as can be seen in my book of poems named Pathos: A Collection of Poems, I started writing poems when I was in High School. I used the few poems I wrote during those years to more or less express how I felt about things in my life. Not as a disabled person but just as a person. Unlike most disabled people I’ve known, I don’t and have not equated everything that happens and has happened in my life with how it has to do with my disability. For whatever reason, even though I do realize I am disabled and that I’ve accepted (and quite frankly, why wouldn’t I accept it? I am confined to a wheelchair, it’s obvious that thing isn’t like the rest – see where I’m going with this?) being disabled, I’ve never thought like one (and other disabled people don’t like me because of that). Nor have I looked at the world around me from the seat of a wheelchair.
But my poetry output really picked up during my college years. Why? Well, there were a myriad of reasons for that. Mainly, it was because of that young lady who I wanted to impress. She truly was my Muse. That’s how I often describe her to people. But, a humorous reason for the increased output of my poems was that I needed money. I’d write poems for my friends in my dorm to give to their girlfriends. With different prices for each type of poem they needed. For example, if they were in trouble with their girls, the higher the price … and that’s how I “earned” my poker money or drinking money.
What is special and surprising about this book is that a couple of years ago, it won Third Prize in the category for Poetry books and Memoirs in the First Annual Indie Awards by Hydra Publications. That was the first time any of my writing had ever won any award. What is doubly special about that was the fact that my real-life best friend, Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel took it upon herself to nominate the book. If I didn’t win anything, I wouldn’t have minded. What blew me away was that Maggie Lynn had done that for me. No one has ever done that for me. It means a lot to me.
The Woman Who Understands: Remembrances of A Walk with An Angel Who Saw Beyond Boundaries
Throughout my life, my friends would tell me that I needed to write an autobiography. My response would always be the same, … “NO!” Why would that be? Well, simply because I literally hate to talk about myself. Additionally, I have never seen my life as inspirational. It is just a life, nothing more, nothing less. In other words, it is what it is. I will admit that I have accomplished many things in my life in spite of my disability. Things like being the first severally disabled person in the state to go through school, from first grade to senior year of high school without ever being in a “special ed” class, always being mainstreamed and keeping up with my “normal” peers. I was also the first severally disabled student to attend my college who went straight through – start to finish – without a break, and to live on campus, and in record time (5 years). A distinction that, I think, still stands to this day, after over 40 years.
I have never been recognized for any of that. In my opinion – that was how it should’ve been. Why? Because I didn’t do, didn’t put up with the discrimination and negativity that I did for fame and glory. I did it so that I could get an education so that I could get a good paying job and live as normal of a life as I could. I wasn’t out there saying, “Oh look everyone, look at what I’m doing, and I’m disabled.” I just did it. I guess one could say that I’m the Chuck Yeager of the disabled sect. Doing things that people who looked upon themselves both, smarter and better than me, said that I could never do, and I did them well and not recognized for my efforts.
So, in November of 2017, my brother drove me down to the grave site of that girl. I never visited the grave because I could not bring myself to do so emotionally. On the way back home, I thought about that time of my life. I knew that there has been a misconception of what that girl and I had. My college years were and are the best years of my life. I wanted to share my memories of that time with people. Not to teach people on how they must accept the disabled and include them in everything just because they’re disabled. That’s not who and what I am. That’s not what I’ve done all my life. Why? I’m a realist. I’ve always seen and understood that not everyone is going to like me and accept me. It’s just that simple. I have a mindset, if we, as disabled people, want “normal” society to truly accept us as equals and treat us that way, we shouldn’t push ourselves on to them and into their lives. Allow them to come to us, allow them to see that we are more like them than different from them.
My autobiography is just my way to share my dearest memories with people. If one takes away a lesson from reading it? So much the better. However, that was not my intent in writing it.
Am I writing anything now? Yes, a novel that is best described as Top Gun meets The Hunt for Red October. After that, I’m going to try my hand at Sci-Fi, Maggie Lynn calls that one my Space Opera.
My best friend, and the mother of my best friend, Peggie Heron-Heidel by the nose of the Collings Foundation’s P-40 Warhawk. (Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel photo)
Friendship Is Everything
The Three Musketeers met up again at the fly-in/car show at the Simsbury Airport. We had a GREAT time. Again, like at the Festival of Trees, Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel and I had a lot of quality time with each other. My respect and love of her grew a thousand fold.
And, Peg Heron Heidel? What can I say about that Angel? When I met her in 2017, I thought it was the first time she and I had met. I was wrong. She told me that she and I crossed paths in the ’80s at the Cape. She passed me on a street outside a store ~ our eyes locked and we smiled at each other. Do you know what, Guys? I do remember that, I remember doing that with this beautiful model-like woman (and Peg Heron Heidel actually IS a model).
She is every bit of what Donna was. Sometimes, it’s, to me at least, almost as if Peg Heron Heidel is Donna. I LOVE HER!!!!!!!!!!!!
May I just add one more thing about my beautiful BFF, Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel?
She is my inspiration. A true inspiration. Her life has been faced with adversities that would’ve destroyed most people, including me, and I’m the Chuck Yeager of disabled people … and yet, she faces life with a smile that is like a sun, she carries on with a can-do/will do attitude that far exceeds mine … and laughs too! She’s frakkin’ amazing!
This world, this society could learn a lot from that beautiful Angel. And, it should follow her lead. It’d be a far better world than it has turned into.
Your beautiful daughter is amazing!