“Laughter, too, that’s one thing you learn in a big Irish family – you laugh a lot at each other, but also at yourself,” says John.
This trait has clearly been passed on to Megan Crowley as well, who has the wry and witty personality that is captured by Meredith Droeger’s acting in the movie.
When I meet Megan, she’s reading on her Amazon Kindle and getting ready for her party. She and her father have a clearly well-developed routine of banter, characterized by a story that he tells me. “I had prepped Megan that there was a tough scene [in the movie] that represented when she was a little girl and almost died,” says John. “I was sitting next to her in the theater and got a little teary watching that again, and I watched Megan to make sure she wasn’t upset. I leaned over to her and I said, ‘Megan, you play a much better sick and dying little girl than Meredith does,’ and she just looked at me and kind of dismissively waved me off and said, ‘Dad, don’t start with your little stories throughout the movie!’”
Seeing this family interact, you begin to understand what they mean by “average”: They tease each other, they joke around, they have birthdays and family outings and do homework and play games. Their journey is remarkable, but it is the details of normal day-to-day life that are the ultimate reward: the moments that are taken so much for granted in many lives.
“They treat each other like regular brothers and sisters,” says Aileen. “That [opening] scene of John Jr. in the movie stealing Megan’s Barbie doll and running around with it was a true story. Though actually, really, he took the Barbie doll’s clothes off and Megan made him re-dress all the Barbie dolls and told him what outfits to put on, when he was eight or nine years old. They teased him mercilessly all night. He and his sister fight all the time, and last night, I was yelling at him for the fifth time to go to bed and I saw him run upstairs to his brother’s room, give him a kiss and run out. They both take care of Patrick together. I think that’s normal for a lot of kids.”
While the Crowleys’ journey is incredible and unique, the lessons that they have learned from it are universal. “Extraordinary Measures isn’t just a movie for parents of special needs kids,” says John. “It’s really about family, faith, science, hope, inspiration. These are basic themes in life in the sense that one person, one family, one group acting together can sometimes succeed and change the course of how things were supposed to be.”
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