Sunday, May 8, 2011
A Mother's Love
As I've mentioned several times on my blog that I love to visit the Millry State Lake for peaceful writing time, yesterday was no exception and exactly what I needed to wind down from a busy, yet fun and eventful week. With just a few fishermen casting their lines from the shoreline, I sat at my favorite table beneath the pavilion and tossed around ideas for this Mother's Day post. After a flip through the pages of my proposal for T.J.'s story, The Human Candidate, a portion from the middle section jumped out at me and ultimately became the focus for this special post.
The photo below is a snapshot of one of my dearest friends, Anita McDonald and her family on summer vacation last year. Anita is the mother to Alyssa, age 5; Tucker age 16; and T.J. age 21. She is the wife to Carey McDonald and is the most selfless person I have ever met.
Before I share Anita's experience, I would like to say this post is dedicated to all of you mothers out there who have stood by and watched as your child has suffered from a disease or an injury. You, too, are my hero, and I admire your strength and determination to make life easier for these special kids.
An account from the day that changed Anita's life forever: September 25, 2010:
After meeting with doctors from the University of South Alabama Medical Center and learning her oldest son was completely paralyzed from the chest down, Anita took the elevator down three levels to the waiting area of the hospital in order to mentally process the upsetting news. With tears streaking down her cheeks, memories of the twenty-one years spent raising her son drifted in and out of her mind.
She was angry at first but eventually realized life would go on regardless if her son could walk or not. T.J. was the same person on the inside, and that was all that mattered to her.
A few minutes later, she returned to the elevator to break the devastating news to her father. Indeed, this was an announcement she did not want to make, but with all the other family members falling apart at the seams, this was something she had to do.
Just as the elevator doors were about to close, a young man in a wheelchair stuck his hand inside. Anita took a deep breath and watched him push himself inside the elevator. Trying her best to contain her emotions, she was unable to hold back the warm tears that filled her eyes. As if time stood still, she envisioned her son trying to go about his daily life in a wheelchair. It was a thought she could not imagine.
Anita swallowed hard once again and was able to regain her thoughts. Somehow the tears went away. Realizing this moment was no coincidence at all, she took advantage of being alone with the young man in the elevator. In almost a soft whisper, she tapped him on the shoulder and asked what led to his paralysis. He turned his head with a warm smile across his face and replied that he, too, was involved in a car accident, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
Anita explained T.J.’s situation and revealed the diagnosis her son had received. The young man detected the concern in her eyes, so he did his best to calm her fears by stating that many years back, he was also given the same diagnosis: doctors said he would never walk again. But with much enthusiasm, he assured Anita that he could stand and walk with assistance now. "Tell your son not to give up! Miracles happen every day,” he said to her, and in that moment she made a promise to remain hopeful and optimistic that her son would walk again. When the elevator doors opened on the third floor, Anita ran toward her husband and family with a smile on her face and a new outlook on her son’s diagnosis.
This moment led to Anita's decision to research rehabilitation centers across the United States, and ultimately began the week long process of transferring T.J. to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
More snippets of T.J.'s story to come in the following weeks, but for now, I leave with a quote from Julie B. Beck that was posted on the overhead during church today:
"Righteous women have changed the course of history and will continue to do so, and their influence will spread and grow exponentially throughout the eternities."
Wishing a blessed and happy Mother's Day to all the women out there who give so selflessly to their children and family. Much love, Tory