It’s a new baby girl, born to young parents. She’s small, she’s having breathing difficulties, she’s jaundiced,
but she’ll be O.K.. Don’t worry the doctors say! She has a club foot, braces, casts, the foot looks good.
Don’t worry the doctors say! She’s slow, quiet and always pleasant, she’s beautiful, she doesn’t talk much.
Don’t worry the doctors say! She’s accident prone, but never cries at lacerations requiring stitches. Don’t
worry the doctor say, she's a good baby. Still slow, beautiful and quiet. Five years later, the doctors say,
“She’s retarded, brain damaged at birth. Don’t worry, there are so many things we can do for them!”
At what time in our life do we need to worry? My great grandmother used to say, “Daughter, don’t worry
till I tell you to worry, then worry like hell!” That was pretty strong coming from someone who had never
said a cross word, much less a curse word in my presence! But I did worry, about everything, and if there
was nothing to worry about, then I just made up something!
Life is ours for the taking! It resembles a carousel, lots of horses, frogs, rabbits, and even stationary chairs
like the old folks sit on! Always revolving, turn after turn....it’s your choice where you sit, whether to go up
and down, whether to take this ride or wait for the next, whether to reach for the brass ring which requires
the outermost position!!! My older daughter got so good at grabbing for the brass ring she could pull as
many as three brass rings on one pass....certainly increasing her chance of pulling that GOLD ring! She still
lives life like that today, always going up and down, always in the outermost position and sometimes pulling
more than she can handle, but often coming up with the brass ring!
I have finally learned to reach out, to take life as it comes, and as the doctors told me to do in the
beginning, Don't Worry! I don’t remember the point that I really stopped worrying. It was sometime
between the news of Jo’s retardation and in planning for her future. As a parent who had worried for five
years, although I had not needed to, I asked the professionals what would life be like when Jo was 16 years
old. One doctor looked me eye to eye and said, “Who promised you tomorrow?” Well I didn’t know....... I
wasn’t sure...... and I was speechless. This phrase has stayed with me over the years, through Jo’s 6th
year, her 16th year and her 26th year.
It takes mountains of faith to turn life’s everyday problems over to the Savior....worry will not change the
events of tomorrow....worry is a waste of good energy. It is destructive to the entire family. The only
promise we have for tomorrow is that God will be with us or we with him! What can be more important?
I would never have guessed what an influence this tiny baby girl would make on my life as well as the lives
of everyone in the family. Many who know me might think the person who influenced me most would be a
grandmother or great-grandmother given the longevity in our family. Perhaps those who worked with me
and traveled with me might think it was some well-known or famous person. Well, surprisingly, it was none
of those. It was that baby girl who most influenced me. This small human being, who spent most of her life
in a world of her own, taught me more than I could have ever taught her in her 34 short years.
Labeled as 'brain damaged', she never owned a piece of property, she never earned a penny during her
life, but she loved everyone she came in contact with. She saw no color barriers, she never had an impure
thought, she never performed a malicious act, she was full of laughter and joy......and I often wondered
which of us was really brain damaged!
I know God does not make mistakes.....not in her traumatic birth nor in her tragic death. She was a gift
from God..... a means to influence me, to teach me..... to see God in the bright sunshine and twinkling
stars, to feel God in the gentle wind and soft rain, to remember God's promise in a colorful rainbow, to
rejoice with hope when I see a dancing butterfly.
She taught me patience with her slow pace of life. She taught me joy when she mastered the smallest task.
She taught me understanding by the simplicity of her life. She taught me to see God through her
unconditional love. And, she taught me how to prioritize my life when she died!
Now when I call on God and feel Him holding me, I always remember her little arms around my neck..... her
spirit was the spirit of God.........I lived with an angel.
|Living With An Angel
Sylvia Lynch Matthews
JO MICHELLE MATTHEWS
9/13/63 -- 7/31/98