I have many, many cousins. Of all of them, my cousin Jilliam has the most unique story. In my opinion, he has a sad tale--a situation that breaks my heart and makes me wonder what the Lord possibly has in store for him when this life is over. What is in that mansion in Heaven that will make up for the nights and days of loneliness, and the life-long struggle of having a disabled body? It will have to be glorious, because I cannot even imagine what it could be....
Jilliam is not the usual case in a group home for disabled people.
He is mentally sound, he is literate and witty, he understands you and can communicate back...
...if you are willing to wait long enough to listen.
Jilliam was born with Cerebral Palsy, and so his muscles did not develop the way they should have. His hands and body cannot function in the easy ways we take for granted, and if he wants to communicate, someone has to hand him a stick and he will pain-stakingly use his body to bend over and push one key at a time. A conversation that would take you 2 minutes could easily take him 20. I can tell you from personal experience that it is worth waiting to hear what he has to say.
For Christmas last year, he worked on this gorgeous card. It was my favorite Christmas gift by far, and it still makes me cry that he gave this to me. This card, given on Christmas Day was the sweetest, most thoughtful, and unexpected gift I had received. I will save it forever!
My family came to visit Jilliam with me, and we all had a wonderful time. We sang him some carols and then we all sang O Holy Night with his computer machine. :)
We made some funny faces and laughed so hard!
And Jilliam raised his arms to flex his BUFF muscles to match the BOD cologne the family gave him.
Tonight we were able to have a Surprise Party for him! It turned out GREAT!
It's a good thing we only had one candle, because we forgot the matches & had to modify how we planned to light it. : )
Jodi and I decorated his front port in the middle of the night so that he would wake up to confetti, streamers, and a sign calling him an OLD MAN for his OVER-THE-HILL 40th Birthday. : :)
Using Mitch's own words, my husband is a "flippin' genius". We pulled out the croquet set and Mitch-Gyver strapped the croquet mallet to Jilliam's wheel-chair. It was a beautiful sight!
Mitch was a great coach, and Jilliam's friend, Ryan, got to play, too!
We had a lovely group assembled to celebrate with Jilliam! This wasn't even half of them! Jacob and Velma made it, so did some friends, employees and staff of the care facilities, another group home also came to partay with pizza, cake, happy faces, and fun! You only turn 40 once!
If you've read this far, I want to tell you one more thing...
Jilliam is a thoughtful, loving, sacred soul. He is an indispensable part of my family. When he used to live in Prescott, before the facebook world existed, and before I had text messaging service, we would call on the phone. I would ask questions and he would type his response into his computer as I would wait, and then he would push the button that made his computer voice read to me what he was trying to say. Sometimes I would have to ask him to push that button 3 or 4 times before I could understand what the computer voice said over the telephone receiver.
One night he called me to talk about some things on his mind and to see how I was doing. I was lying in bed and full of sorrow of my own. I had just lost, yet again, another baby by miscarriage. He asked me what was wrong and I had to tell him "I'm losing my baby." I explained that the baby had been growing like it was supposed to and all of a sudden at the doctor's appointment, there was no longer a heart beat. And in order to find out why this kept happening, I had to have surgery and testing...not to mention, my heart was broken. I can still hear his gentle voice mourning for me. He was in a situation of his own where his hand was having problems, and in order to keep his limited mobility, he was going to have to have a second surgery the next day on his hand. He was scared of what might would happen, the long recovery and was worried that the surgery might not be worth it. That night we cried together and lifted each other's burdens in a way that still lifts my soul.
With all of the modern helps we have, and even with loving people in his life, he still has the hardest life-long set of circumstances of anyone I know. I have been learning that all it takes is a few moments of joy to change someone else's day--and to change your own day for that matter. Spending time together with friends and family is like a fountain of healing-balm that we must commit to partake from often.
I am a better person for knowing Jilliam. I'm so lucky to be related to him. I love him.