Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pride & Joy #6, Brent

It will be fun to do this post about Brent. I know I have talked about him many times before, but there is so much I want to tell you about this remarkable young man. He is our miracle.

When Brent was born there were some concerns, but all seemed to be fine and we went home a couple of days after he was delivered. However, I had a tough time getting him to wake up for his feedings. I called my doctor, Richard, at home and his wife, Priscilla, told me she'd get him to come by as soon as possible. (They happened to be our dear friends) Richard told me that I needed to wake Brent up every four hours and make him eat. I still remember crying in the middle of the night because it was really difficult for him to wake up. When Richard called the next morning he said to take him to the hospital. It was determined that he had "failure to thrive". He ended up being in the hospital for a few days--a very scary time for us.

After the initial scare, he seemed to develop normally until he was about 18 months. Then we begin to think he was deaf. (Life is amazing--I was so fearful that he would have to wear a hearing aide) We did some testing and Richard referred us to a medical center near our home. Then we moved to So. California and after finding a pediatrician he referred us to the University of California at Irvine where we were given the diagnosis of Atypical Pervasive Developmental Disorder--a form of autism.

I love this picture of him with two of his nephews, Chris and Evan.

We moved again--this time to North Carolina. We were referred to a couple of centers there and finally after a great deal of evaluation we were told he was borderline mentally retarded. We were also told he would graduate from high school with a fourth grade education. I know that they were doing their best, but what bothered me so much was the condescending attitude of this woman--as she patted me on the shoulder/arm and told me I needed to accept it. I apologized and said, "No, I don't. I see potential in him that you don't see."

Through the years there he went through speech therapy and occupational therapy. His biggest struggles were social. He was mainstreamed and did very well in school. When he was in kindergarten he learned his ABC's backwards--I couldn't believe he could say them so quickly. He had help in the classroom until he was in Grade 4. Allan and I still laugh about spelling tests--I don't think he ever missed a word. When the teacher would say the word he would say the letters as he wrote the words--the other kids in the class loved it. They all did very well, too.

His brothers and sisters have always been so good to him.

With Stephen when he, Daphne and Jason came down to Laguna Niguel for a visit.

He and Heidi on a trip to Lake Louise.

With Neal at Niagara Falls when we lived in Toronto.

With Heidi, Kyle, and Heidi's friend, Jacquie, when they all went to Disneyland this past summer.

While he was growing up we chose not to tell him about his autism. Years later he asked me if he had some sort of a problem. When I asked him why he was asking, he said he just thought he was slower than everyone else. At that point I explained everything--telling him that we chose not to tell him because we didn't want him to feel he had limitations. The doctors told us he would never understand religion because it was too abstract. One Easter (I think he was about 10) he received Legos in his Easter basket. He said, "Legos are great, but the Atonement is such a better gift."

He went through the scouting program and achieved Chief Scout and Queen's Venturer which would be equivalent to Eagle. One of the highlights of Scouting for him would have to be his two week canoe trip down the Blood Vein River.

He has always had a passion for movies. In fact, when he was little he loved videos--just carrying them around. For whatever reason he would rip the label off the videos and somehow he knew which video was what. For a couple of family gatherings Brent wrote a script and the whole family would act it out and he would film it. We did a movie called, "Video Wars" about a young boy who plays a video game and saves the world. One of the best parts is when he puts the bloopers at the end. A few years ago when we were in Park City they did a movie called "The Ultimate Watch". I loved it. It involved aliens--and was very low budget!!! In fact, he filmed many movies for youth activities. The kids did Nephi and the Brass Plates, Noah's Ark, and Johnny Lingo. They were hysterical.

I remember wanting so much to have him healed--I wanted a miracle. Then one day I realized that there were so many miracles in his life. All the things that he accomplished were miracles. His program in school was not adapted. He graduated from high school with the highest marks in two of his classes. After graduation he began looking for a job to save money for his mission. He worked at McDonalds until he left.

He is such a happy young man and extremely helpful. . When he left to go on his mission, I missed him for obvious reasons, but Allan and I both commented on how much we missed his helping hands. Allan would be bringing the car into the garage after grocery shopping and you could hear Brent running up the stairs and heading out to the garage to help.

We were thrilled when we received word that Brent would be able to serve a mission. It was so fun to take him to the MTC. Allan was Bishop of the YSA Ward and there were 3 missionaries entering the MTC the same day, so it was fun to be with them. (One of the other young men was from our home ward and Jacquie happens to be one of Heidi's best friends ; )

He doesn't have a mean bone in his body. When we visited with his Mission President he summed it up by saying that Brent is without guile. When he was on his mission, I asked about some of the missionaries. He would never say anything mean, he would just mention that some of them were "interesting".

He went into the MTC about 5 days before my birthday but then came home two years later on my birthday. Both were fabulous birthday gifts--the first because he was able to go and then the second when he came home after having a wonderful mission. It is going to be such a treat in April when we go to Arizona and he takes us on a tour of the various areas where he served.

I think he was very surprised when he got home to see that his "little" brother was not so little anymore.

Brent is currently attending LDS Business College. He also has a job tutoring in Accounting.

He is an amazing young man and I consider it such a privilege to be his mother.


PJ said...

What an amazing story, yvonne. A great way to start my day.
Such a wonderful, handsome young man.

Tonya said...

Not that I want to pick favorites but this post has to be mine so far of your kids. I love that you saw potential in him that others didn't and never gave him a label or limitations. I think it's wonderful that he's overcome so much. I needed to read this today for reason that I'll explain on my blog soon.

Nancy Face said...

It's hard to put into words how special this post really is...it's just wonderful! :)

The difficulties you faced when he was a tiny baby must have been so frightening. I'm so glad you recognized his potential when others did not.

Brent was so nice to help his classmates with their spelling, tee hee! ;)

I loved learning about Brent's many accomplishments, but my very favorite part...and this is what made me cry...was when he said, "Legos are great, but the Atonement is such a better gift."

I loved all the awesome pictures, especially the first one with the huge open-mouthed smile! :D

Alice Wills Gold said...

I am impressed with all your picture finds!

Chel said...

Wow, he is an amazing young man. Such an inspirational story. I loved when you said, "we didn't tell him because we didn't want him to feel like he had any limitations."
That is very powerful. I started to tear up... Brent is a wonderful man and you are an amazing mom!

Whitney said...

There is no other way that I would want to start my day than this. Your posts are always so touching, and this I think is near the top of the list.
Brent sounds wonderful. I love what you said to the nurse about seeing potential in him :) I got a little misty from that. And I love what he said about how the Atonement was better than Legos.
I'm so happy he was able to go on a mission, I bet he was great, and I know he touched so many lives. I loved this post :)

Magirk said...

Whitney said she was a little 'misty' reading parts of that, but I can't stop crying! I feel like a smush!!

What a beautiful post, Yvonne. A wonderful story!! A wonderful life. :)

I know I'm a pansy, but I cannot imagine being faced with those kinds of struggles in life. And it is truly inspiring the way he has not only faced them, but far surpassed them! I love it!

That perfect description of him being 'without guile' is something for us all to strive for - I know I would be much better off that way!! :S

I could sense that about him just from reading the way you described him and your memories.

The pictures were so nice. :)

You're an awesome Mom!

JustRandi said...

Yvonne, you have so much to be proud of. I love this post!

aurora said...

Okay, that was the most beautiful post! Thank you for sharing your sweet boy with us.

You are a remarkable mom to not only see his potential, but to allow him to see it and not to see his limitations! Though, it certainly doesn't sound as though he has any!

I will think about his Easter comment on Easter this year, and I think that I will tell my kids about it.

He is a very special young man with a very special mother.

Tori :) said...

THis post made me cry. I don't know why. It was just really sweet. :)

txmommy said...

wow! what an awesome story. He is a son that would make any mom proud :)

I love the Easter comment, so sweet.

annie said...

I loved reading about Brent. What an amazing child who has overcome so many odds! What a wonderful encouraging post. I so understand about the miracles along the way, although I want the BIG one too :).

Melissa said...

I was looking forward to this post.
Hope is a precious gift. Thank you.

Ashley said...

I really think it takes great love, to see the potenial in people. I hate it when people give them limitations or labels. Everyone is special and capable of great things, thoughts, and feelings. I hope I can follow your example and can see all the potential in my little ones.

Holly said...

Wow. What a beautiful story Yvonne. He's an amazing boy, but you and Allan are equally amazing parents.

My J is mildly autistic and I understand your fears and concerns. I wonder what things will be like for him as he grows up. Your story about Brent is inspiring!

Thank you for sharing him with us.

Yvonne said...

pj: He is a wonderful, handsome young man--thanks.

tonya: I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm so glad I saw the potential that was obviously there.

I'll be waiting to read your post.

nancyface: Thank you.

It was a very frightening time for us.

He was so glad to be helpful ; )

Yes, we were blown away by the comment about the Atonement, too.

I was going to make reference to his trying to be part of the "face" family ; )

alice wills gold: You wouldn't be amazed if you saw how many pictures I have.

chel: Thank you--It was important to me that he never felt he couldn't at least try to do things.

whitney: Thanks. He is such an amazing young man and I wanted everyone to feel that.

He was a great missionary--extremely obedient. In fact when he was told he was to write his mother every week--I guess he thought he wasn't supposed to write his dad. He only sent the letters to me ; )

magirk: He is such a wonderful young man--it's a great story to tell.

Believe me, no one could or would ever say I was without guile. You just feel that when you are in his presence.


justrandi: I am very proud of him. Thank you.

aurora: Thank you. We think about that comment every Easter.

I am grateful to be his mother.

tori: Thanks.

txmommy: He is a fantastic son and I am very proud.

annie: His determination has blown me away. He always worked so hard.

I knew you would understand wanting the big miracle, but also recognize the little ones.

melissa: For so long hope was all I had--always hope. I'm glad you read it.

ashley: Such a beautiful comment. So often we don't look for that potential, but get blinded.

holly: He is an amazing young man.

I'm so grateful Brent wasn't born 30 years ago--there have been so many advances. I look forward to the day when there are even more.

If ever I can help with your concerns regarding J, let me know--or if you ever just need a listening ear.

Carrot Jello said...

That's amazing.
I love this quote, "Legos are great, but the Atonement is such a better gift."

mindyluwho said...

Yvonne, what a beautiful tribute to your son. I love that you didn't tell him anything so that he wouldn't be limited by what he precieved himself to be rather than be who he truly was. It makes me think of what kinds of labels I have put on my own kids and how it has shaped them. Thank you! You are an amazing mom!

Amber said...

What a wonderful, inspirational story. I LOVE how you raised him - believing that he does not have limitations. And because of this, he will go far in life, I am sure!

Lauren said...

Wow. This post was amazing. I loved reading about all of his accomplishments. He is truly a miracle :)

Yvonne said...

carrot: He is one amazing young man. We were totally blown away by his comment.

mindylou: I wouldn't say I was amazing, just trying do my best with this wonderful young man.

He has worked so hard in all aspects of his life.

amber: His life has been such a blessing to all of us. He just goes forward in everything.

lauren: Thank you. He is definitely a miracle.

smellychelli said...

Thank you for sharing your family and sharing Brent's story. It is uplifting and encouraging for others who might be facing some of the same circumstances.
You, as a mother, are an inspiration to me. I want to be the kind of mother you are!

Klin said...

Wow! This was amazing. You are a wonderful mom and it shows in your kids.

Heidi said...

Brent truly is one of the most amazing people I know!!! It is a privilege to be his sister even though I do not deserve it! He is such an example to me! I wish I was more like him--always happy and always nice! I love him!