But I'm No Saint, So Don't think that
My wife and son came home tonight with a load of stuff; he was invited to a Birthday Party for Jesus at a near by church. Somebody has heard of all the hardship we went through and is so taken of how our son has become that they wanted to do something to help out. Personally I have mixed feelings about the donations because I don't feel like we deserve what they did. I feel that this donation of several bags of food should have been given to a family who is out of work or something. We, like many others are just keeping our heads above water these days, but are both employed, not behind on any bills and doing alright in these tough times. My wife was humbled by the gesture but also felt that there was more than enough food that we could share some with someone else. We know a single mother of three young boys and tomorrow they will get the bulk of the kind donation we received. This person understands that we went through a lot and that medical bills almost put us under. They also know it's a miracle that our son can even walk today and most can't tell he has had a problem.
When he was born he had medical issues and we were told he'd be lucky to ever walk or simply turn the page in a book. It's just to much to go into here as I could write volumes about the whole history of his medical history and surgeries. But, we were lucky that one Doctor who just happened to be at the hospital during my sons birth overheard our Doctors talking about his defect at birth. This one Doctor intervened - unknown to us - having learned about this rare condition called Arthogryposis (sp). The others had no idea what to do or what was wrong. Anyway, this one Doctor took immediate measures that began our sons long road to being able to walk. Then the Shriner's stepped up and their hospital worked with the Doctor and came up with a course of action. When our son was born I saw him and knew there was a problem before my wife did. She was under heavy med's because of the C section and had no idea anything was wrong. For another day or so she did not get to see our son and I was pretty much alone as we did not tell her of the problems. There was family there when he was born but I was in a state of shock and dealing with all my emotions alone. I remember going to see him and he was so small. The nurse asked if I wanted to hold and feed him so I sat in the rocker and he ate like a pig then fell back asleep.
At home a few days later my wife and I had at the beginning decided that if we had to live in a tent that our son would get all the help we could give him, even if we had to sell our home and everything else. We just never gave it a second thought ... honestly we didn't. The Shriner's took care of the major surgeries over the years at no cost to us which would have put us in bankruptcy. My health insurance would not cover most of his other needs even though I was paying through the nose for coverage. We still had to pay - out of our pockets - enormous medical bills for the care of our son. Even people close to us have no idea of the stacks of medical bills and fights with insurance we had to endure over those years. The two of us did without many, many things we would have liked to have and do as families who have children that are born healthy and normal. We did what needed to be done for our son as that was our main priority above anything else including ourselves.
Somehow, we helped others over the years from time to time. I can't recall how many times around Thanksgiving and Christmas that we helped out others. One family lost everything in a house fire and we donated toys and cloths. Another was an elderly women my wife had known since she was a child; one year this lady couldn't afford to heat her home so we and another helped pay her gas bill through the winter and we brought her wood to burn. Several years I gave part of my Yearly bonus to her for her holiday needs. It's odd looking back that with all we had on us somehow there seemed to be just a little extra at the right time that we could help someone else out. We were living close each month ourselves back then. My wife worked extra and I worked extra as well to make ends meet. Those early years for me were working full time then mowing lawns and also mower repairs that kept me in my little shop sometimes till midnight. My wife and I worked seven days a week and I guess we were to busy to have time to dwell on what we couldn't do but kept busy with what we could do.
Our marriage survived while many other couples with children with special needs divorced as the pressure was to overwhelming. So many single mothers we had met over the years at the Shriner's hospital visits we had to make. My wife was willing and is more visible in public to talk about our sons condition to anyone who wanted to know. Me, I'm more of the private sort who felt then like not everyone should know our personal business. Her way worked for her and mine for me. She also had a more flexible schedule to take our son to appointments locally every week while I was on a more rigid schedule at my job. It got to a point where people would call the house to speak with her and be surprised a man answered the phone. I could hear it in their voice and the stammer at times thinking they had the wrong house. They always saw her and our son out somewhere so they assumed I wasn't in the picture I guess. (I could write another story still on that)
People would ask her things and she would talk to them about it. Nobody ever made the effort to ask me or talk to me about what I was going through all those times. And I also know people who still to this day think I'm a loser piece of dirt and have passed judgement on me when they have never asked me anything about what I was going through. People who were not around when I fell asleep holding my infant sons hernias pushed in before he could have surgery to correct it. Or the times when our son was having a surgery on his legs or feet and when we had to do his physical therapy every day and his screams in pain. Many of these people weren't around then and have no idea at all. It angers me that they pass judgement on me like they do pointing fingers and talking behind my back. But maybe I shouldn't be angry at them. I've helped plenty of people but I just don't beat my own drum about it ... til now I guess. You don't know what I felt out in public when people would stare, make remarks so we could hear, all about what in the world had we done to that poor child with casts on both of his legs up to his waist, or the splints on his tiny hands and arms. Passing judgement as if we were monsters of child abuse to this infant baby boy.
Don't treat me like a bystander or a bad father when you have not the faintest idea of all the history. My son can walk and turn pages in a book today because of the efforts, pain and tears of both parents. Everything that has been accomplished was not done by just one parent, but the both of us ... together to help our son to the point he is at today. You have not seen where he was but only where he is today. Most marriages end in divorce under the stress of of such strains. I've earned the right to have respect for what I myself have endured. I know what I went through and the Lord above knows what all I've had to deal with in this situation and therein lays who and only who I have to answer to.
Contradictory to what some may think they know, I have been here through every single little bit; never once did it ever cross my mind to walk away from my son who needed me. He was/is my son no matter what. I've stuck it through and never walked out on my son, my wife or my responsibilities once. I've been here for the long run, stumbled and got up again.
But I'm no Saint, So don't think that.