Blessed By Cerebral Palsy

My sister Shannon is our family's greatest blessing.
Shannon is our family’s greatest blessing.

I have a soft spot in my heart for those who have cerebral palsy. For any of you who don’t know, cerebral palsy is a disorder that is caused by damage to the brain during its developmental stages (pregnancy, childbirth, or even up to the age of three). It can cause a wide-range of physical disabilities and mental limitations.

But cerebral palsy has been anything but limiting for my family. In fact, it has greatly blessed our lives.

Forty years ago (today), my sister Shannon was born with cerebral palsy. Shannon’s form of cerebral palsy is moderate. Her knees don’t bend properly and she sometimes has difficulty walking. She has trouble remembering things, and rarely understands sarcasm (which is unfortunate, because its the language my family speaks). But my goodness! Shannon has the most beautiful heart—and its filled to bursting with love!

It’s like cerebral palsy has kept Shannon away from the darker side of “growing up.” Instead of focusing on the selfish things of life, Shannon is constantly focused on how she can help others. She buys gifts, makes crafts, helps watch her nieces and nephews, and freely gives her time to others. And no matter where I go, Shannon will always, always, always send me little letters and emails.

I found one the other day that I thought I’d share with you. I had asked her what she would tell someone who was struggling to move forward in life. This was her response:

I have a learning disability. I went through Special Ed. through Elementary, Jr. High and High School. I had to work really hard. I’m thankful for my family for their love and support they gave me. I graduated from High school with honors. I teach Head-Start as a part time Teacher Assistant working with children ages 3-5. I babysit my nieces and nephews. I play the piano by ear. I love to write short stories. You can do anything if you put your mind to it. We all have disabilities in some areas. Some people are able to hide their disability or handicap better than others. I feel everyone is special.

If Shannon’s life were to be condensed into one lesson, I think it could be this: keep moving forward with love.

Oh! I told you that Shannon rarely understands sarcasm—but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t understand jokes. When she asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I sarcastically responded with “A pony.”

Here’s what she gave me:

Shannon wrote: "Seth here's a pony that you wanted. I hope you have space for this pony. And, promise me that you will love and take care of this pony."
Shannon wrote: “Seth here’s a pony that you wanted. I hope you have space for this pony. And, promise me that you will love and take care of this pony.”

Well played, Shannon. Well played. 🙂

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