The first children’s book by 13X Paralympic Medalist and the first “nearly unassisted” paraplegic to summit Mt Kilimanjaro, Chris Waddell. Also illustrated by the author, it is about a four-leaf clover that attempts to hide what makes it different and special until it meets a dandelion, which never hides. The two fall in love and the four-leaf clover carries the baby, but the question remains, what will it look like? Originally, Waddell wrote and drew this book as a birthday present for his wife Jean Oelwang, a child at heart and a huge fan of the fierce and bold dandelion. Children’s books gained a significant space in Chris’s life when he took a fantasy class his senior spring at Deerfield Academy. He still gives The Little Prince, one of the books he read that semester, to friends when they have children. His mother inspired him to write his own books when after his Kilimanjaro summit she told him that he should write one on the climb.
Chris Waddell achieves honesty rarely seen. From the drawing on the cover, replete with erased first attempts, he lets us see and benefit from his struggle. His 2011 Middlebury College commencement address provided the genesis of the book of great insight and inspiration. “Commencements are glorious moments when a beginning and an ending occupy the same space. In our non-stop lives, they represent an opportunity to pause, to assess the past and to plan for the future. Amidst the reflection, celebration, and optimism lay the landmarks, if we can recognize them.” He concludes saying, “If there is anything to take from a graduation speech, it's that everyday should be a graduation. Everyday should be an opportunity to stop, just for a moment, and look forwards and backwards. Otherwise, one day spills into the next. One day becomes ten or twenty years.” Between the two thoughts, he makes everyday graduation, inviting us into the start of a ski race, the bright lights of open-mic night at a comedy club, first steps and trying something new like learning to draw. Along the way he introduces us to our best selves—the fun, bright and charismatic ones. Chris Waddell’s story is different from ours, but it feels familiar—familiar to the lives that we hope to lead. Things That I Want to Remember Not to Forget is a fun read. Read it once. Reread it again and again. Give it to your friends.