On July 6, 1989 our first child, John, was born. He was born six weeks premature. John was born at Northern Westchester Hospital but had to be transported to the NICU unit at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. On that day everything in our lives changed. The three weeks in the NICU unit proved to be nothing short of a roller coaster ride filled with emotional ups and downs. After being told that our beautiful baby would not live through the weekend he surprised everyone by beginning to breathe on his own. That celebration was quickly cut short by a cat scan that showed bi -lateral brain damage caused by a brain bleed. Everything was happening so fast and all we could think about was bringing our son home to love.
It was only about 6 months later that John was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegia, Cerebral Palsy. Our journey with physical therapy and doctor’s appointments began before his first birthday. By the time John was about five years old we knew that he was going to need a wheelchair for mobility. John attended public school until he was about 16. He transferred to the Henry Viscardi School in Albertson NY. What a wonderful experience it would turn out to be. For the first time in many years John would come home and talk about his friends. I can’t say enough good things about his time there. I wish it could have lasted longer but John aged out at 21. The following years were very difficult. John did not want to attend College. He tried a vocational program but was so uninspired. It felt hopeless that we would find anything for him to do. My husband and I are incredibly proud of him. He travels on para transit two days a week to WIHD where he works for the audiology department. We continue to look for more things for him to do, which proves to be a very difficult task. He is now 27 years old and amazes us every day. He has had more than 25 surgeries in his lifetime and has never lost his ability to smile. He works so hard at his job and so hard in therapy.
This has been a journey of love for our family. John has two younger brothers. Our son Michael is 24 years old. He graduated from Fordham University in 2014 and is now in his third year at St Joseph’s Seminary studying to become a priest. Our youngest son Brian is 22 years old and will graduate from Fordham University in December. Brian is currently working for the Westchester County Police Department as a Park Ranger. His goal is to become a police officer after graduation. We are so incredibly proud of our boys. They have always been so willing to help with their brother which allows my husband and I a night out once in a while. They are both men that want to make a difference in this world. They have always been John’s biggest fans and have never complained about the time and care that he requires. Money spent on therapy, equipment and doctors took away any chances of family vacations. But they weren’t resentful. Instead they were grateful for simple things and still enjoy spending time together as a family.
I have a hard time remembering life before John was born. I truly believe that he was meant to be here. I also believe that we can all learn a lesson from him. I’m extremely grateful that I get to be his mom.
My name is Ruthann and we live in Ossining. I work part time at St Augustines school in the after care program My husband John and I have three boys. John. Michael and Brian.