He Became Everything He Wanted To Be
by Lucille L.
It was June 2, 1964. I was in labor, anticipating the birth of our 4th child. The time came and our child was born. I was half awake, semi-aware, but sensed that something was not right. I didn't hear the baby cry. I sensed a quietness, some whispers by the doctor and nurses as they moved around. Someone carried the baby out of the room and he wasn't shown to me. Some minutes later, I don't know how long, the doctor was leaning over me, talking to me. He said, "it's a boy, but he has some problems. Do you want us to call a Priest, so he can be baptized?" I answered "yes." I was asked if we had a name. We didn't, but I quickly responded "John Paul." I don't know why that name popped right out of me. I wanted to see him, but was told he might live at most a couple of days and it would be better if I didn't. A dermatologist was called. He did a biopsy and the diagnosis was Lamellar Ichthyosis. We were told it was rare, was caused by a recessive gene and there was no cure. We found out later that most doctors had never seen it and some had never heard of it.
Two days went by and I was told I could go home the next day. I insisted I wouldn't go home until I saw him. The doctor walked out of the room. The next morning he came back and said he had decided my husband and I would be allowed to see our baby. We did. His body was covered with this thick, plastic-like covering. His eyelids were stretched outward and prevented his eyes from closing completely. (He later had surgery on his upper eyelids, but it didn't help much.) It broke our hearts to see him that way. We came home and left him, but we would go see him once a week. He lived one day at a time. I did a lot of crying and praying. I gave God two choices: "Heal him or take him." Loving him was not a problem, but I worried of what he might have to endure in this world. Eight weeks went by and we were finally told we could bring him home. We were instructed to isolate him from any germs that might be around. We already had three children and our house was very small; we didn't have any room. We were instructed the next best thing was to make drapes that would go around his crib. I started sewing the drapes and about halfway through I put them down and I told my husband, "I'm not going to hide him in that corner. If God wants to take him, we can't hide him and if He wants to save him, we can't hide him either. He will have to live in this world and the sooner we get used to it, the better." A few days later, we brought him home. We were very careful not to unnecessarily expose him to colds, etc. His siblings immediately loved him and knew we all had to be very careful. I got used to giving him his bath and applying the cream that had been prescribed.
|John Paul in his youth|
The time came when he would go to Head Start. I held my breath and took him the first day. This wonderful teacher met us at the door. I explained what I could about ichthyosis & not contagious, etc. She put her arm around his shoulders and introduced him to the little ones there. They soon accepted that he was one of them. He made friends and loved being there.
Then came the first day of six years at parish school. I felt more confident since the Sister and many of the children had already seen him at church. He did encounter some problems, when a couple
|Father John Paul|
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