Ronnie’s story

I am a mommy, a grandma, and I am the older sibling of a little baby who was born into our family about 50 years ago.

When Ronnie was born into our family, he faced many challenges and my parents were told he would die soon. The doctors recommended they leave their baby at the hospital and concentrate their lives on the children at home.

That evening Ronnie was brought into our home and he became the focus of our lives. Many a day and night my mother rocked him, and we would hear his whimpers, his streaks of yet another seizure, his gagging on a drop of food.

Because it was spring and my father was a farmer, he needed to be gone long hours into the fields. Upkeep of the house and the care of five older children depended on Mom. Even at our young ages, we all learned quickly how to manage with minimal help. My older sister learned to cook and bake for all of us. I was 8 years old and barely tall enough to see over the wash tubs, but I quickly took over the laundry for this crew. Next sister in line did all the cleaning, and my two youngest siblings kept each other occupied.

I remember many days praying, “"Oh please dear God, let Ronnie be OK."” I had no idea at the time what I was really praying about, for at that point the seizures had totally ravaged his little brain and body. Day after day, year after year …

The love and nurturing Ronnie received allowed him to continue living, a happy little boy who progressed very slowly. He learned to walk, utter a few sounds, and had the biggest smile and giggle your could imagine. We relished every move. Unfortunately his little body gave way to many difficulties, and at age 17 we lost him to pneumonia. We grieved!

At this point, two of us were already married with babies, two of my sisters were getting married, one brother was in college, and we had a little brother “"caboose"” who was only in kindergarten. It was after Ronnie was gone for awhile that we really began to realize what a force that little life had been to all of us. The faith we experienced in our daily lives was a reality … my parents had lived 17 years with the knowledge that Ronnie was not meant to be with them much longer and it had to have been faith that he would someday be with God that brought them through those endless days and night.

Watching our parents manage their daily lives with love and faith was a central focus for us as children. We needed to rely on one another for so many things, so family harmony was a value instilled into our lives. Family was the total focus for my parents, and this treasure was passed onto us. Many times in later years we would talk about our younger times, and every discussion would center around our concerns and love for brother Ronnie.

People have sometimes commented on how difficult and heavy this burden must have been for us when we were so young. “"Our burden wasn't heavy. He was our brother!”"

Our parents are now gone; Ronnie's siblings are approaching retirement years; several of the grandchildren now have their own children. Many tributes have been written to my parents, their devotion to the family and their faith in the Lord. And as people sometimes question the how or the why, we remember what Mother would always say, “"God gives special children to special families."”

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The support, information and encouragement provided by the PPFL parents is not meant to take the place of medical advice by a medical professional. Any specific questions about care should be directed to a health care professional familiar with the situation.