I read an article recently about a remarkable young man named Quai Jefferson. He attends St. Joseph Regional of Montvale, where he is a senior wide receiver (on the state’s number one ranked football team) and the starting shooting guard on the basketball team. Not only a star athlete, he also excels in his studies with a 3.5 GPA. After school, he cares for his mother who has Multiple Sclerosis and keeps his household humming. He empties her catheter bag, re-dresses the bandages on her bed sores, cooks dinner (pork chops, rice and green beans on the evening the reporter was visiting), cuts her meat up into tiny pieces and settles her into bed. In his spare time (insert throat clearing) he pays the bills, buys groceries, clips coupons and completes his homework, sometimes working until two in the morning before, finally, curling up in bed. At 7:15am, his day starts all over again. Oh yeah, and he’s seventeen years old. Really? Really.
To me, Quai represents every mother’s dream. The child who excels. The child who perseveres. The child who adapts. The child who cares deeply… for us. He warms his mother with companionship, fills her with pride and breathes life into her ailing frame. The gifts that Quai gives his mom are vast, perhaps in proportion to his family’s circumstances. In a world stuffed with instant gratification and diminishing attention spans, one would assume that Quai Jefferson is a rare gem of a child. Yes, he shines. But is he so rare?
I think about my own two girls. My eldest, who has multiple disabilities, has chiseled out parts of myself that I never knew existed. While I battle our insurance company to cover additional testing for her, I recognize a tenacity that did not exist in my twenties. And as I push her doctors to do more – to make her comfortable – I am amazed by my own assertiveness. As I carry her from room to room, my body buckles and bows under her weight, yet my inner strength swells. All of my strength, I get from her. My youngest, just shy of a year, makes me laugh every time she claps her tiny hands because I’ve told her she’s a good girl. When she rests her head on my chest, thumb in mouth, and drifts off to sleep – I find peace. And as a typically developing child, I now get to experience typical motherhood.
In a situation like Quai and his mother, would my kids step in like he did? I’m not sure. What I do know is that even if the wrapping isn’t perfect and the sizing is a little ‘off,’ the gifts my kids give to me are always exactly what I need.
Just as Quai is for his mother, my children are my gifts. The most meaningful gifts.
I called my own mother tonight. I told her it was nice to see her over the holidays and that I loved her. But it didn’t feel like enough.
Quai and his mother are fundraising to purchase a special bed that will help with her bed sores. Visit online here to find out how you can contribute.