Sixty years ago, a young couple were excitingly expecting their first child. The nursery was prepared, baby items were purchased, and baby showers were held—all in anticipation of a healthy baby.
Mom had a long hard labour and delivery. As soon as I was born, I stopped breathing and was whisked away to ICU, where I spent my first week in an incubator. The doctors didn’t expect me to live. Back then, parents weren’t permitted in the ICU. My parents hope of having a normal child were shattered when they heard that I had Cerebral Palsy.
God had plans for my life—and normal was not in His plan.
I’ve lived my life being dependant on others, using a wheelchair to get around, and using my mouth to type, paint, knit, and complete many other tasks. With God’s strength and my families support, I’ve been able to graduate from high school, compete around the world for Canada as a Paralympian, run my own accounting business, and publish an award-winning book.
In Mark 10:27 ESV, we read, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’” (emphasis mine)
I’d like you to help me celebrate this milestone. Please write a memory below in the comments. It can be funny or sad, but it must be true. I’ll be reading them before they’re posted. Then I may pick one or two to be included in my second book, which is in process. If your story is picked and published in my book, you could win a free copy.
I never expected to reach my sixtieth birthday, but it’s not about me. It’s about God faithfulness shining through brokenness. Why I was born to live with Cerebral Palsy I do not know, but I know the One who does—and I trust Him. If you’re broken, turn to Him. He’ll welcome you with open arms.
John 3:16 ESV says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Comments on: "SIXTY YEARS" (10)
Debbie – Way back in high-school at church youth group, we had regular outings that often involved sports or other physical activities that often excluded you from participating. Yet, you were almost always in attendance and enjoying the social time with your friends.
I remember one event – miniature golfing. You had never been and we talked about how we could include you. That’s when a me and a few friends of mine – John Manax and Dave Kruk came up with the idea to get a cardboard carpet tube and cut it to length for your wheelchair. You would aim the tube towards the hole and drop the golf ball in it and send it on its’ way to the hole. If I remember correctly, you actually did as well as the rest of us using the putters.
I was always impressed with you for your ability to make circumstances fit your situation and not let them dictate who you were.
It was a huge impact on me to see how much support your family gave you to live your life as independently as possible.
As Deb’s “computer teacher” at Saunders S.S., I often visited her at home to assist with her personal computer.
One Saturday, I visited to do some minor maintenance on her PC. She’d been using a track ball instead of a mouse, which was a great improvement to give her access. Of course, she quickly became quite adept at using it, and relied on it to control various items on the screen. I mentioned to her that it’s a good idea to keep it clean because a dirty one tends to skip and malfunction. I had cleaned the rolling ball in a mouse before, so I had a pretty good idea of what I’d find once I removed the casing. While I was discussing the plan with her, I stressed how important it is to shut the computer down whenever one is doing maintenance such as this; otherwise, the unit could short-circuit and cause all kinds of trouble.
After a lengthy explanation of exactly how it was to proceed, I removed the casing and the rolling ball. Using a Q-tip swab soaked in alcohol, I proceeded to thoroughly clean the ball and the contacts in the interior of the unit, making sure Deb watched what I was doing so she could describe it to anyone else who might later be called upon to do the job. The entire process took about five minutes, and I was pleased with my work. I put the trackball assembly back into place and thought it best to try it out. I reached behind the computer to restart it, only to discover to my horror that I had neglected to turn it off to begin with! Oh, my! With all of my carefully-explained details of how to do the job properly, the “expert” had forgotten the most important part! We tested it out and were relieved to discover it still worked; and, we both had a good laugh at my expense.
Happy 60th Birthday Deb . I can remember the first time you ask me to work for you, at that time Brian had to go to Toronto Western hospital to get surgery on the back of his neck, so I had to say no, but you never gave up a couple years later you ask me again, and I agreed to work for you. This is when I began to open up , it was the best decision I ever made my friend. We have had many laughs together and many talks about our Lord Jesus Christ.
You are the best Employer and friend anyone could have, you have help me from being shy to being confident and more open to life.
God bless you my friend and enjoy your 60th Birthday. Lots of love Yvonne
Happy 60th birthday, Debbie!
Where have the years gone? As I read your blog I wondered what ‘normal’ is? When I met you at church in London, we became friends just like any other 20ish young women. I loved our times together, our silliness and discussing life. Then I was privileged to be able to accompany you on your Paralympics events in training to Windsor and Kingston. A special memory was our visit to see Joni Eareckson-Tada, was that in Toronto?? The years have blended together, it’s wonderful to see you every now and then in Muskoka. As I say, what is normal…I remember a specific time when I wasn’t feeling well and was in a lot of pain. I phoned you and asked if you would be able to come over just to be with me to take my mind off the pain, unfortunately you were also home alone and could not get a taxi but you talked with me on the phone and helped me to feel better. Glad to be able to call you friend!
In Spring of 2008 my life changed, and I had to leave my job and friend Deb behind when I moved to Cambridge!!
If there is anything Muskoka is known for in spring, it’s Blackflies!! I remember joking with you Deb, about not missing there being no black flies in Cambridge!! So….with your great sense of humor, you collected up some black flies in some tape and taped them on the inside of a birthday card you sent me with a message saying I was missed by many!! So funny…I laughed so hard and shared that card with many people!! I still have it!!
You are an awesome friend and mentor! We’ve been through a lot of things together!
I remember when I first started working with you at your home in London so many years ago. You taught me so many things, like how to take time for myself, how to teach others to provide the personal care the way you needed, how to get you on your bike (we had a lot of fun riding in the neighborhood, at Springbank Park and many other places), the things that you needed your dogs to do to help you, and so many other things.
We’ve gone on many adventures together and had so many good times and struggles, but God has walked together with us throughout this journey of life.
I love you so much and miss you when we’re apart. Every time I come up or you come here, I feel like we’ve never been apart!
You are my forever friend and I look forward to spending eternity together dancing on streets of gold and singing praises with you to our Father God!
Happy 60th Birthday 🥳 🎉 🥳
I remember your first day at Byron Southwood Elementary School. Most of us had never seen anyone in a wheelchair before , and were full of questions. You taught us about cerebral palsy …about meeting the challenge ahead of you. To me you were “just Debbie, my friend “. Even though we lost touch after school ; the lessons I learned from you stayed with me. My children have their own set of challenges and I don’t think I would have dealt with things the way I did had you not been in my life. Thank you. Congratulations on your 60th birthday!
I am so very thankful for being a small part of those 60 years. I was thankful that your folks allowed me to use your indoor pool for some of my rehab for my arm injury. Up until that I always saw your incredible achievements and was inspired by your spirit!! While spending more time with you I had a glimpse into the grace and inner strength God had given you, and developed a keen insight into your life. To see that a sneeze could stop your work on your computer until someone was able to pick up your typing wand, made me see how much more the work you did for school and business included. You an amazing person, and you are a beacon for God’s grace and love, how He has enabled you to touch so many can only testify to His faithfulness and encourage the rest of us!! But I would be amiss if I did not also add you have a wicked sense of humor and always up for mischief!! A huge happy 60th Debbie!! Much love and laughter, Allison
Deb, the most recent memory I have of you is last summer when you and I sat together in the sun at the MBC campground. We shared the ‘hard’ months we had experienced. We both shed tears over the loss of the norm, my job was anything but normal and you were living life without your Mom, your new normal. Spending that time together was good for my soul. I walked away refreshed because you took the time to be with me, to listen to me and allow the tears to fall unashamedly. Thanks for being that kind of friend, I know you are always there for me!
60 years young!! Happiest of birthdays to you and may God bless you dear friend.
My dear Deb,
So many memories.
Strange how the tough stuff ends up being the most precious.
I loved the times on our way into shopping or working in your office when we’d break into singing together. The most precious was trying to fill in the sleepless hours in the hospital when you first found you had diabetes.
Then, knowing one of your favourite songs was Josh Groban’s “You Lift Me Up”, I thought that would be my special contribution/connection at your 60th birthday party. It was so lovely to share that with your Dad and other psw mates and friends! I felt badly that it brought tears, but I hope they were deep tears of precious memories shared with your Solid Anchor, your Loving LORD.