We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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In 2001, my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a nerve disease that slowly starts making the nerves fade away so that the brain has a hard time sending messages throughout the body. Knowing this,  my dad would always make sure that my mom would be comfortable and safe at all times. One time, her sickness became so severe she was struggling to lift her legs as if they were stuck in dried-up concrete. Just to stand up, she needed to hold multiple things to keep her balance so she wouldn’t fall.  When I was ten years old my dad said to me that I had to start taking the responsibility of taking care of my mom when he was not at home. He told me that I was “THE MAN” of the house when he wasn’t home. In response, I always made sure that my mom was my #1 priority and made sure that she didn’t get injured and fall to her last step.  One day, my dad left for work as usual and I was at home taking care of everyone. My friends came over and asked me if I could come with them  to play basketball. I thought that playing ball for a little bit wouldn’t hurt anyone, so I went with my friends thinking everything would be fine. By the time I came back, I saw that my mom was not in the kitchen like when I left. Instead, I found her on the floor of her room, lying there helplessly. “Are you ok? I am so sorry that I left you lying there Amma,” I worried as I lifted her up with all my might and sat her in the chair beside her.  I felt so guilty knowing that if I was there with her I could’ve prevented her from falling. It felt like my heart was breaking apart piece by piece. My mom assured me that she was okay, but I knew that on the inside she felt like I left her hanging on the side of the cliff. She told me that she was trying to go up the stairs to get her checkbook to pay the bills. She tried to go up the steps when her foot slipped and she fell on her side. When my dad came home and found out what happened he was heated. He was so furious that when he yelled at me he was louder than a concert speaker on full volume. “Why did you leave your mother all by herself! You know this is what happens when you think only about yourself and don’t consider how other people are doing!!” he raged.  Luckily my mom didn’t get seriously injured except for some bruises on her waist from hitting the floor when she fell. After that incident, I would never leave my mom without telling her where I’m going. Today, when I leave the house, I make sure that my mom is prepared. I make sure anything she needs, like medicine, church study books, bills, or any other necessities are all on the lower level within her arms reach. I think that having this responsibility helped shape me into a more mature person faster than the people I grew up with, although I didn’t always see it this way. I remember whining to my mom and dad saying, “Why do I have to take care of mom every time? Why can’t you be like other parents and let me be a kid? Why can’t I just play basketball with my friends?”  Now, I regret saying that because I knew my mother couldn’t control her MS. My mom was just trying to live her life to the fullest with the abilities she had. Being a little kid I never really understood why I had to go through this, but when I got older my dad explained to me the reason. “I gave you this responsibility because I know you can handle it and this is preparing you for life. As you grow older, when you have a family for yourself you will have to sacrifice some of your free time to take care of your future wife and kids. That is the unfair part of life people will end up talking about. In the end, it will all be worth it, trust me.” This made me realize that I am not the only person in this world; there are people who need to be taken care of, especially the people who are close people to you. I started to be there for my family and friends and show them my heart, my caring heart. 

© Jonathan Mathew. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.