June 1, 2016: Jackson started the day bursting with smiles. "Happy birthday!" he exclaimed as his mom walked into the room. He just couldn't wait for it to be said.
"Jackson's 18?" asked little Sara. "Yes," 9-year-old Christian replied, "he's a premature adult." I haven't heard that phrase before, but it's actually a good description.
In the weeks prior when Angy would ask Jackson what he wanted to do on his birthday, he always said "hotel." What he likes best about staying at a hotel are the little toiletries in the bathroom. It seemed an expensive way to get "free" travel-size toiletries, so she hoped he would change his mind.
Angy asked again on the big day what he wanted to do. "Bath & Body Works." (Good call, buddy.) They spent an hour in that little store while Jackson took his time examining all the products and happily dancing to the '90s music being played.
He finally settled on $60 worth of scented products in the usual quantity of two each. When Christian saw the purchases later, he noticed that Jackson had selected two men's fragrances, which he normally doesn't do. "Now," Christian proclaimed, "you're a true man."
Jackson brought a few of his treasures to our Sunday gathering. Do you see the little bottle without a matching pair? Angy bought that one for herself, but Jackson confiscated it.
Since he doesn't like cake, we put together a bowl of birthday candy filled with two of his favorites—strawberry gummies and butterfly gummies. I also made Jackson a card and put some cash in it so he could do more shopping. I love that he took time to study his card and reread it.
My mom, Jackson's beloved Mema, always said she wanted to live long enough to see him turn 18. She missed it by only 6 weeks.
When Angy would bring Jackson to visit her in the hospital, she had to assure him that he wasn't going to have anything done. Naturally, he doesn't like hospitals (except for the gift shops, that is). And he didn't like seeing the hospital bed in Mema's living room when she was under hospice care.
During the 10 weeks she was sick, Jackson continued his usual mantra of "Mema's house" because he always wanted to go there. When Angy told him about Mema's passing, he didn't show any reaction. But when she asked a few days later if he wanted to go to Mema's house, for the first time in his life, Jackson said "no."
|With Mema in November|
Less than a week after his birthday was his annual checkup with the cardiologist. We were apprehensive about it, given that each year Jackson gets heavier and the time for his next medical procedure gets closer. Every few years, he has to have something done, and it's been two years since his stents were dilated.
A lot of prayers went up from Angy, Darrell, and me. Here's how our gracious, merciful God answered. (You're just going to have to forgive me for the excessive use of exclamation marks.)
- Jackson's stents still look great, so no surgery this year!
- Although he's always had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure, which can enlarge and harden the heart even more, his heart has actually gotten smaller!
- The cardiologist said that when he watched the echogram, had he not known about Jackson's high blood pressure and aortic stenosis, he would have thought he was looking at a normal heart!
- Instead of Jackson aging out of the fantastic Texas Children's Hospital now that he's 18, he'll be in a new program for adults with special needs and receive medical care through Texas Children's for the rest of his life!
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:20–21).
When the nurse rolled the blood pressure machine into the room, Jackson started rocking and singing, then pointed to the machine and said "blood pressure." The whole time on the exam table while she took his pressure in all four limbs, his big smile never faded and he kept on singing. Angy asked if he was "loving life" to which he replied "YEAH!"
Wow again, Lord.
Afterward, Angy took him to Walmart to spend some of his birthday money. As he bounded across the parking lot back to the car with a bag of Axe body spray and a huge smile, she remarked that it was a good day. Jackson heartily agreed, "GOOD DAY!"
This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).