Do What You Can


Hidden away in my laundry room to insulate the sound of my sobbing, I dialed the long-distance number with trembling hands. “Will you come take care of Jake and Grant.” My anguished request was selfish…but I needed her. For 3 months my younger sister, LeeAnn, abandoned her life in New York, in order to keep my world spinning. Eight years my junior, she bravely stood beside me while I battled cancer. In addition to her nursing duties, she instantly became a mother. She alone owns the memories of taking Jake to his first few months of kindergarten. While Jake was at school, Lee ensured that Grant would continue with his weekly therapies and appointments. I had always carried the weight of responsibility of his care. With deep appreciation, I watched her assume my role, and witnessed the vanishing of the mother that thought she knew best. Grant and I healed under her nurturing attention, and LeeAnn would experience transforming shifts as well.


Early childhood education has become my sister’s professional and personal passion. While working to complete her Masters in Special Education, she would often draw upon the wisdom she procured from mothering Grant. She once wrote, “My nephew would scream loudly when he was tired or frustrated by his weakness; however, his therapist kept inspiring him to continue with games and funny sounds. After many years of work, my nephew learned how to walk. This therapist changed my nephew’s life forever giving him the ability to navigate his world. I was in awe of the impact this one person had on my nephew’s life and yearned to have that kind of positive affect on others.” Over the past 16 years, LeeAnn has been working to educate teachers, children, and parents. I am the one that is now astonished by the

impact that one person can have on the life of a child.


Once LeeAnn returned home, I fortunately felt well enough to accomplish the daily duties of motherhood. However, my sister had helped me to finally grasp the concept that Grant needed more than I could provide. No longer trying to shield myself, I fully embraced the challenges of raising a child with special needs. Allowing the specialists to use their knowledge, and then celebrating every victory, became my new pattern. The list of individuals that advocated for and fully embraced my son would go on for miles. The friendship and comradery that I developed with these talented doctors, therapists, and teachers was an unexpected blessing. Appointments that used to fill me with overwhelming anxiety, now infused me with hopeful encouragement. I was not alone.


Denise and T.R. spent hours strengthening my son so that he could walk at the age of 3. Sarah Williams was Grant’s first Pre-K teacher. I never worried a single moment when he was in her classroom. Over a decade later, her daughter Emma would be the first person waiting for Grant as he entered high school. Jelovich, Hinton, Taylor, Boylan, Flook, and Kitchen are but a few of the educators that believed in my son. Each of them evaluated, problem-solved, pushed, and motivated Grant in ways I could never accomplish.


Grant spent 4 years with someone that changed everything. Ms. Ricki Lynch is a petite, youthful beauty that quite frankly scares the shit out of me. I worked with her at West Lake Middle School, and had the privilege of witnessing her divine gifts as the lead teacher in Grant’s self-contained classroom. As a mother, I always saw Grant as my baby. It was my job to protect him from the scary world that he could not face on his own. Well, Ricki shattered that notion. She treated Grant like a middle schooler, and demanded that he develop independence, manners, and responsibility. She established a sense of community for her students, and fostered the idea that each of them had an essential role to fill in their school homes, and community. I watched my son grow into a loving, hardworking, and productive young man. His transition to Holly Springs High School was seamless in large part to the education he received from Ms. Lynch. Now the baton has been passed to Ms. Goodman, and I am breathless to witness how she will leave her indelible mark on my remarkable son.


I want to hug myself as a young mother and shower her with love. She just wanted to heal her son, but in her isolation, she could never find the answers to her troubling worries. The insurmountable challenges and stress resulted in a physical and emotional breakdown. In her place of destruction, she found them…her miracles. She set aside the limiting dreams she had for her son, and allowed each of them to bring forth another piece of the extraordinary that Grant was meant to live.