Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dear Wendell

Dear Wendell,

 On November 30, 1972, God delivered a very special baby boy to my Aunt Hazel and Uncle Clinton. I remember that day - I was 12 and I felt like I was getting a little brother! Terrance was already like a brother to me and then you entered our world! I remember you coming home from the hospital on Christmas Eve.  I remember the concerns your Mom had over you not meeting the typical developmental milestones. I remember going with your Mom to take you to therapy in Columbus. I remember, because of that experience, deciding that I wanted to be an occupational therapist for children with developmental problems (and I did!). I remember when you first started talking and called me "La La". I remember all those times you were at The Children's Hospital for surgeries. I remember those braces you used to wear. I remember going to visit you at the Vivian B. Adams school. I remember when I dressed you up as Mr. Rogers who was one of your favorites. I remember you always being the "like of the party" at family get togethers. I remember that you like Lucille Ball just like I do. I remember that you have always cheered for the Crimson Tide - I love that you dressed up as an Auburn fan for Halloween! I remember how you would sing your heart out when Granny played the piano. I remember our family trips to the beach. I always remember your love of God. I remember when you graduated from high school. I remember when you lost your Mom and some years later, your Dad, and how very strong you were. I remember when you moved to Arbor Springs and how happy you are there. I remember how very patient and kind you were as you dealt with the problems with your old chair which limited your independence and how you waited patiently for a new one. I also remember how very thankful you were for the many friends and family who afforded the new chair for you. I remember how you always like to tell a joke and laugh at other's jokes. I remember your sweet relationship with my Daddy. I remember how you love a good dessert! I remember our friend Nancy Killian telling me that she went to visit you to be a blessing but that after visiting you, she was the one who received the blessing. But I NEVER, EVER remember hearing you complain about your situation in life! If you ever had days that you wished to be more like everyone else, you surely didn't show it. The truth is that we need  to be more like you. You are a living example of Philippians 4: 11-12 which says "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." I remember you telling me just last week "I know there are others more underprivileged that me - here I am eating chocolate cake, going to church and playing bingo." Wow! Now that's contentment! I hope that you know what a blessing you are to others!

I Love You
"La La" (a.k.a. Carla)

Note: Wendell is my first cousin who has had cerebral palsy from birth. He is 39 years old and lives in a Health and Rehab facility in Opelika. He inspired my 20 year career in Occupational Therapy! He is the happiest person I know! You may not know him but you can still be inspired by his love of life, despite his circumstances. Allow these photos to paint the picture of his incredible love of life!





Always the like of the party! No one loves a family gathering more than Wendell!


This sweet smile has been with him throughout his life!


At a family Easter Egg Hunt with our cousin, Caryn!


 This precious little boy inspired my career!



So proud of this handsome young man when he graduated from high school!


Always cheering "Roll Tide Roll" - even in Auburn!


Love our visits!


Always a "ham", loves the camera! This is the new wheelchair that was provided to Wendell by friends and family! Purchasing a chair like this one is like purchasing a new car almost, but it didn't take long for the Clayton Methodist Church to raise the funds. Just another tribute to Wendell!

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