Is That All? A True Story
Special thanks to prolific author PeggySue Wells for permission to use her writing on this week's guest post.
Immediately upon giving birth to her fifth child, Nelma’s arms were empty. The hospital staff whisked away the baby before she could see him.
“I want to see my son,” Nelma insisted.
“You need to understand, there are problems with the baby.” The doctor explained that perhaps Nelma should consider an institution for her newborn.
“I want to see my son,” Nelma repeated.
So, the new bundle of babe was brought and placed in his mother’s arms. Nelma smelled the sweet new baby smell of him; she cooed to the little boy and cradled him to her heart. Then, ever so carefully, she unwrapped his blanket. There lay her infant, born without legs, his hands and arms not fully developed. Nelma took it all in, caressed his soft new skin, and smiled into his trusting eyes.
“Oh,” she said softly, “is that all?”
And so, Jerry went home with his mother to the welcoming arms of his family. There were struggles along the way as there are for all families, yet Nelma continued to love her children and cover them with prayer. The middle of seven children, Jerry was treated just like everyone else in the family with the exception that there was no chair at Jerry’s place at the dinner table to allow for his wheelchair. When it was Jerry’s turn to wash the dishes, he washed the dishes.
When a man from the circus came to ask if Jerry could be part of their freak show, Nelma’s husband took the man by the scruff of his neck and threw him out of their home.
“Jerry is not a freak,” Nelma informed the visitor, “Jerry is our son.”
Years later Jerry prepared to move away to college. A friend from church, Barbara, was overjoyed that Jerry would attend the same college where her daughter, Kathi, was enrolled.
“Be sure to look her up when you get there,” Barbara said.
Nearly a year later, Kathi made an impulsive trip home. In the familiar surroundings of her mother’s living room, Kathi’s confused emotions exploded into tears.
“Mom, Jerry wants to marry me. I know he loves me, and I love him. But Mom, Jerry doesn’t have any legs. Can you marry someone without legs?”
Barbara’s arms and calm voice encircled her grown daughter. “Honey, since you were young I have prayed for just the right husband for you. I prayed he would be a thoughtful, compassionate man. I prayed your husband would be strong in character and integrity, that he would be a leader in his home, that he would provide well for you and your children. I prayed your future husband would know God, that he would be an honest, hard worker, that he would love you and be a tender life’s partner. I prayed you would be best friends as well as husband and wife.”
Barbara lifted Kathi’s chin so their eyes met. “But Kathi, I never prayed he would have legs.” With the blessing of their parents, Jerry and Kathi were married. Jerry and Kathi have five beautiful children; every other one has red hair like their mother.
One day Jerry and Kathi’s oldest daughter invited her school age friend to come for dinner. Partway through her hotdog, the guest turned to her young hostess. “Your dad doesn’t have any legs,” she reported.
Anna paused, peered under the dining table to study her dad parked in his wheelchair. Returning upright, she regarded her friend. “Your dad doesn’t have a wheelchair,” she replied.
A younger sister was learning in school about people with special needs. She came home from school one day and asked, “Mom, do we know anyone with disabilities?”
All too soon, Jerry escorted his eldest daughter down a long church aisle to meet her groom, a young man she had grown up with in church. Next, Jerry and Kathi welcomed a daughter-in-law and the joyous arrival of grandchildren.
Jerry spent his career as a teacher. As a public school resource specialist, he worked with 40 seventh graders with learning disabilities. Jerry served as an elder at Open Door Christian Church in American Canyon.
While Vice President of the Institute in Abundant Living, Jerry was a popular guest speaker, sharing his story and the stories of others who overcame great challenges. Based out of Open Door Christian Church in Novato, the Institute in Abundant Living provided higher education to developmentally delayed adults, teaching them theology and music and everyday living skills including cooking, map reading, and how to catch a bus.
“We’re equipping churches to do exactly what Jesus told them to do in Luke 14,” Jerry said. “To go out to the highways and bi-ways and welcome these people into the house of God.”
A lot of credit for the success of Jerry and Kathi’s family is directly attributed to Jerry and Kathi’s mothers – Nelma who saw not her son’s handicaps but his potential. And Barbara who saw not the wheelchair that held the man, but the answered prayers within the man.
Tropical island votary and history buff, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, Wells is the bestselling author of 30 books and an audio finalist including The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, Chasing Sunrise, The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make, and The Patent.Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, Chasing Sunrise, The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make, and The Patent.
Connect with her at www.PeggySueWells.com, on Linked In at PeggySue Wells, Facebook at PeggySue Wells, and Twitter @PeggySueWells.
What about you? Know someone who has overcome challenges to do noteworthy things? Tell us about them below.