He was a miracle from the beginning! I had three miscarriages before he struggled to remain in the womb. I spent four long months bed-ridden, determined to honor his will to live by doing everything that she could to bring him safely in the world.
His smile captivated everyone around him, earning him the nickname, Smiley. At 10 months old, he developed meningitis, and by the 18th day of a high fever, the doctors did not think that he would live much longer. But, we received a second miracle from God, who on the prayers of an angel, granted him more time.
He was age 9 when the doctors told me that he had a heart condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and that he would not live past age 19. They advised against sports and anything strenuous, but he wanted to play in the marching band someday, and I was determined that he would.
I told the band director and the doctors that if he were denied the opportunity to participate in the band, he would think his life was over. So, I made a pact with them to march beside him at the parades, giving him Gatorade each time the band stopped, so he would not get dehydrated and possibly go into a coma. He got quite a kick out of seeing me running on my short legs to keep up with the band.
One of my worries was that he would never get to be a father, but he became one just before he graduated from high school. I thought, “Well, I guess there are some strenuous things he can do!” He loved his little daughter, putting a lot of miles on my car to spend time with her. At age 21, he married her mother and a second daughter was born the next year.
Everywhere he went, he took his daughters with him. They were ages 11 and 7 when his heart started to give out. When it could not sustain him any longer, he was placed on the transplant list, jumping to the head of the line because of the seriousness of his condition.
A third miracle occurred when he received a new heart within three days! Within two months, he was out of the hospital and back living at my home. His wife divorced him and gave him custody of the two girls. I complained to him about allowing his daughters to stay up until midnight watching television with him, for they needed their sleep at ages 12 and 8.
He became angry at my attempts to tell him how to raise his children, and he moved out. He stopped taking his rejection medicines as he had when his step-father controlled the process. To show no hard feelings,even in a wheelchair, he attended my PhD graduation with his two daughters, and he told them that he expected them to be the next ones in the family to earn a PhD.
The last time I saw him was when he drove me to the airport for a trip to Montreal. Thankfully, I waved goodbye and told him I loved him. Four days later, he died at age 30, no more miracles for my son.
His was a short life’s journey, but he accomplished a lot in it, considering his limitations. I thank God for the miracles that kept him in my life for 30 years. Today, his oldest daughter has earned her Bachelor’s degree, on the way to fulfilling his dream. It’s true that the length of our lives is less important that the legacy and love we leave behind.