Two weeks ago, Todd's co-author, Deborah Burke, sent a cover letter to Soho Press, along with a proposal for publishing. Deborah Burke is part of the Writer's Guild and certainly knows how to deal with publishers, as well as how to write well! Here is a synopsis for the starting point for this blog, the book - To Hell with Impossible by Todd Gauchat with Deborah Burke- written by Deborah Burke.
When Todd Gauchat (Go SHAW) met his future wife for the first time, he was sitting in his wheelchair, his whole body was unreasonably spastic, even his head. But this able-bodied woman looked directly at him and spoke to him, though he could not speak to her. Later when he heard her laugh, Todd found himself smiling for the first time in a long time. He was 30 years old and had yearned for love his whole life.
Todd is an unlikely lover, husband, father. He cannot talk, walk, or feed himself. Yet he lived a full life—one he imagined and perhaps prayed into being. He refused to accept that his body, over which he had no control, made him unworthy of love and the fullness of life. Because he was blue at birth from lack of oxygen, Todd struggled a lifetime with severe spastic Cerebral Palsy. He was abandoned by his mother, separated from his able-bodied twin sister and his older siblings, thrust into foster care by his desperate father, and nearly institutionalized by the state. In spite of the odds, Todd believed he had been born for a purpose that perhaps only God knew.
Raised by adoptive parents who belonged to the Catholic Worker movement, Todd considered himself more normal than abnormal. His adoptive parents allowed him to do everything their able-bodied sons did: go on roller coasters, have extraordinary adventures. Todd learned to live well with a harsh disability, to dress and care for himself, to type, to begin a career as a freelance sports writer. As a teen, he was surprised to discover that he was passionate—he needed love to become whole. On a letter-board placed across his lap, he pointed to letters of the alphabet to ask friends and family the question that burned within him: “What are my chances for love and marriage?” No one encouraged his pursuit of love; many scoffed at such an impossible wish. But Todd didn’t give up. In his search for love, he suffered many rejections. Despair led him to attempt suicide; then a promising surgery failed. Yet, his lonely fate was interrupted—by love. That able-bodied woman with the huge laugh pursued him. They married and together they proved wrong a fertility expert’s prognosis that Todd could not father children. Todd was happily married to Rosalind for 24 years. Their three sons were into or approaching their teens when Todd was struck with total paralysis; he died in 2011.
Whether you have a severe disability like Todd’s, a fear of failure, or a compulsion for sadness, Todd Gauchat will convince you that life is about becoming whole with what you’re given. He always said that his life was full of miracles—the kind that occur only when one understands that there are no limits. Many people who knew Todd believe he was given his particular set of “impossibles” to prove that obstacles need not define or limit the achievement of our dreams.
Todd spent 17 years of his life typing his life story with one finger on his spastic left hand—the only hand he could move. He typed his story until he was struck with paralysis in 2003, at the point when he was just beginning to write his love story with his wife, Rosalind. Once the paralysis set in, its effects were rapid. At that point Deborah Burke came in to help Todd finish his book. The work slowed many times due to Todd’s illness but he read and corrected every new chapter. Todd and Rosalind both worked closely with Deborah to finish the “rest of the story”—how Todd and Ros met, fell in love, married, had children, and survived a family crisis. Then Todd passed and after his death Rosalind became ill, which further delayed the book’s completion.
To Hell With Impossible challenges outdated assumptions about what it means to be normal. The book has 32 chapters, a Foreword by a former priest who was Todd’s lifelong friend, and an Epilogue by Todd’s wife Rosalind Gauchat. The book is complete at 187 pages and 53,071 words. It includes about 15 photographs.