As the sons of Jim Clark all get older, I think we all realize we are becoming more and more like him. I, in particular, picked up on my dad’s tear ducts. My dad will cry over a commercial on TV. I used to laugh and say, “Oh, Dad, comon, the Lexus isn’t that great.”
I am morphing into that teary-eyed man I grew up watching. I think I saw a billboard one day with “Team Hoyt: Inspiration, pass it on” and I teared up. Why? Because I know their story. It’s pretty incredible. But so are my tear ducts.
It’s funny how as you experience different things in life they have huge impacts on how you handle new situations you face. My family has had some pretty incredible (and I don’t always mean “Awesome!” by “incredible”) experiences in regards to my youngest brother. In fact, this blog post was inspired by my sister Gillian’s musings on this brother and my sister Adrianne and how she’s dealt with health trials in her life.
Ammon’s had a very challenging physical life and my parents have had to deal with those first-hand. I was a senior in high school when he was born, so my involvement was somewhat limited. I was out of the house and on a mission and college fairly soon after he was born. But my folks have been very limited in what they can do — even in terms of going out, going on vacations to visit their grandkids, even driving up to Idaho for a missionary farewell/homecoming because it’s difficult to manage all the stuff that deals with hauling Ammon anywhere.
My folks really get exhausted when there are extended hospital stays for Ammon. They live over an hour away from Primary Children’s, they have to eat and pay for hospital food for most their meals, they sleep on crappy beds in the room, their entertainment is limited to small TVs that show the Disney Channel to keep Ammon entertained, and they deal with a plethora of hospital staff who don’t necessarily have great, shall we say, people skills.
I’ve watched this all a little detached. Sure, I’ve made plenty of visits up to the hospital to see them, but there’s nothing I can really do. I just kinda have to sit back and watch it all transpire and hope for the best. I’ve learned a lot about Spina Bifida in the last 14 years but mostly learned more about my parents and some of my siblings.
Today, I was sitting in a regional church meeting and was listening to Vicki Matsumori speak. She was speaking about how parents are an example for their kids and then related an experience illustrating this. They had a premature baby who spent lots of time in the hospital. He also developed hydrocephalus, which means water on the brain. Ammon has the same problem and the shunt — the draining mechanism — is the reason he recently spent three weeks in the hospital.
One night, after they all returned home from a recent surgery, this young baby was crying in his room. As Vicki and her husband debated on who would check on the baby this time, they suddenly heard the pitter patter of 2-year-old feet coming down the hallway. The baby’s cries stopped and things were calm. Vicki walked into the baby’s room and noticed that their 2-year-old daughter, hearing the cries of her little brother, got out of bed, walked into his room, climbed into his crib to calm him down, and proceeded to lay her hands on his head to say a prayer for him. Undoubtedly, she’d seen her own father lay his hands on her brother’s head to offer a Priesthood blessing many times.
Vicki Matsumori was very emotional as she related this story and I felt much the same way. I thought of the compassion this big sister had on her little brother, the example she was simply following, and the physical ailments some face that allow us all to grow a little.
My life really is pretty easy. I have a great wife and three adorable daughters. Our health problems are minimal. I have a job where I feel very stable. We have a home we can afford and enjoy. Our cars work. We have good friends. Perhaps my challenge is to observe others’ trials and exhibit the compassion and support needed to lift the hands that hang down.