How I Live

© Maria Dunn, 2009

Commissioned by Families Who Care (through Public Interest Alberta), an advocacy group opposing Alberta government cuts in 2009 to services for people with developmental disabilities. Particular thanks to moms and grandmas Lorrie, Leslie, Kim, Candace and their children Madison, Bronson, Colby, Robert for sharing their experiences.


Let me tell you how I live
Day to day the fight I give
My wheelchair like some barricade
That’s only scaled by the brave
I battle not with noise and fire
I signal to be recognized
My mind alert, my spirit real
Like any child, it’s love I feel

Let me tell you how I live
Day to day the fight I give
I scrape and scramble, push and pull
To scrounge my child a life that’s full
I battle not for hate and death
My fierce campaign is love, respect
For help to keep my family one
Like any dad, like any mom

For love of my daughter, for love of my son
I am weary but I soldier on
I hold her gaze, I am his voice
I care

Let me tell how I live
Day to day the work I give
Yet long hours, compassion, skills
Are not enough to pay my bills
I battle not with fists and rage
I’d settle for a living wage
Why is our lavish cupboard bare
When people badly need my care?

For love of our daughters, for love of our sons
I am weary but I soldier on
Who will hold my gaze, Who will hear my voice
Who cares?

Let me tell you how we live
Day to day the fight we give
Indifference, bureaucracy
Steal our precious energy
We battle not for glory, fame
We hold the mirror up to shame
Are we a place, are we the kind
Who let our weakest fall behind?

I am your daughter, I am your son
I am weary but I soldier on
Will you hold my gaze?
Will you hear my voice
And care?


Maria Dunn vocal, guitar
Shannon Johnson violin
Solon McDade upright bass