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Mother Supported in Caring for Handicapped Son

When I was four years old, I came down with a leg disease that left me bedridden, then in a wheelchair, and then in braces and on crutches for two years. I went overnight from a very active child to one with a serious disability. My doctor told my parents it was imperative they make me do things for myself and not spoil my character by doing everything for me.

I remember an incident at church when my parents were making me go up a long flight of stairs on my crutches. I was struggling and taking a long time, but they were prodding me on. I stumbled, got redirected, and continued on one slow step after another. I'm sure it was painful to watch.

Suddenly, from behind us I heard a woman say to her husband, "Can you believe those parents are making that child do that?"

I don't remember what my parents said, but years later I wondered how my mother did it. One of the most caring people I know, she is also one of the most care-taking, the kind who has difficulty making the dog go outside in the rain. I can only imagine what it was like for her to let a crippled child struggle through things she could have helped with. So, years later, I asked her.

"Emmett," she said.

"Emmett?" I asked.

"Yes, Emmett. Every day, when I had to do something I just could not face doing, I would call Emmett, cry my eyes out, and listen to her tell me I had to do it. She would help me through it each time. It was awful."

Emmett was my mother's best friend, a wonderful Christian woman. What my mother had discovered was that by herself she could not do what was required of her. But with support she could. She was being "built up" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

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