The Visitation of Kerry

Kathy was never one for hyperbole or exaggeration. She was never given to loud outbursts of laughter or periods of being teary-eyed. If she said something one could carve it in stone or take it to the bank -- so to speak. She was solid in her words and way back then, back in 1979 a couple weeks into March, after our oldest son Kerry died.

Kerry’s muscular dystrophy had wasted his body, Scoliosis had twisted his spine to the point that he was pigeon-chested and his chest was turned almost 45 degrees off center. When he lay on one side it looked like he had a small basketball under his ill-fitting t-shirt. Lying in any one position was uncomfortable for anything approaching an hour. Not having the strength to move himself he called out to be moved all night, every night, every half hour.

Each one of those nights, never failing, Kathy would answer Kerry's mournful cry in the night. His pitifully small body still had a baritone voice that shook the walls with his, Maaaaaaaaaa! It was a plea, not a demand. His mother faithfully answered his plea. Silently she got up and went to her son. The vignette was played out each time with the same words, I'm sorry, followed by, It's OK. Go back to sleep. And she would roll him over. I was a sound sleeper but if I heard him I would get up and move him. She never complained that she moved Kerry about 99% of the time. The subject never came up. Like good mothers everywhere she answered the call of her child and did what mothers do, exhibit unfailing unconditional love.

On one of those mornings back then, shortly after his death, we were having our morning coffee. The television was on in the family room catching the latest news that went unheard. There was never much to be said over the breakfast table. Morning newspapers were unfolded but seldom read. Much of the morning coffee time was spent looking absently into space. So when she spoke I was surprised. She looked at me solidly. I had a dream about Kerry last night. In it he called out to me just like he used to do when he wanted to be rolled over at night. I got up and went in his room but when I got there he was sitting up in bed smiling with a sheet up to his neck. He seemed to be glowing. I asked him what was going on. He said, Mother, I called you here to show you my new perfect body. And then he pulled the sheet down. His body was straight and strong. That's all I remember.

She smiled and there was light in her eyes. She wondered what it was all about. I knew immediately and smiled. That was his way of thanking you for all the times you got up in the night and to tell you he was all right in his new life, a I said.