You’ve been gone for twelve years now which seems so unreal, yet it feels like forever since you left us. Tanner was only three years old when you passed away so suddenly. You worried about Tanner’s future and it made you so sad to think about some of the things he would likely never be able to experience because of his special needs. I remember how you had such a difficult time talking about his future. You wanted him to get a truck when he turned sixteen, get a girlfriend and enjoy all the things most teenagers are able to experience, yet you realized his life would be completely different than the average, and that he would not experience many of those things as a young man. In 2005 when he was born I will agree with you his diagnoses brought us many emotions. We had times of great sadness, and at times there was intense grief – we had envisioned what his life would be like, but with his diagnoses we realized the hopes and dreams we had for him were now completely altered and we did not know what his future would look like, or what he would be able to do, much less accomplish. It was very, very hard.
Today Perry, I will update you on Tanner’s life – I will go ahead and tell you before I jump into this that he is happy, and that he is enjoying life to the fullest “Tanner style” as I will call it.
Tanner is now fifteen years old. He has an amazing room of his own that he loves, and guards – let me explain the guarding part. I can be on one end of the house and hear a squeal from him and I know without even going to check on him that one of his small siblings have entered his room uninvited, that’s pretty serious to him. You see, Tanner is a perfectionist in many ways, and he keeps his room spotless – you should see the drawer where he keeps his t-shirts and socks – he even makes his bed immediately when he gets up – no offense, but he did not inherit those traits from you. His siblings are opposite of perfectionist when it comes to keeping things nice and straight, therefore in his opinion they are trespassing when they enter his room. He loves genealogy and loves to dig into family history. He can spout off peoples birthdays and anniversaries super fast. He likes to test me and ask me what date someone’s anniversary is and I will answer him, and he will correct me if I am wrong. He can make some pretty amazing home videos, but he especially loves to makes memory videos of loved ones we have lost. He loves to make death announcements that would go in a newspaper – most of the time they are death announcements about his dog who has not yet passed away – he even goes as far as to send them to the funeral home, and they have actually sent him a sympathy for the loss of his dear pet, who in fact, had not died. He is currently working on a memorial for his dear great grandmother who is still alive and going strong, he knows she has not passed away, but he insisted on doing it so please don’t mention this to her. He loves gospel music, and knows many of the songs by heart. Because He Lives is his favorite song. His favorite group is the Gaither Vocal Band. He thinks Bill Gaither is really cool – he also thinks a cousin he has that is named Logan Gaither is Bills grandson, so we may be kin to Bill Gaither somewhere down the line. He loves to help with work outside the house, or inside, and many times takes it upon himself to pick up toys his siblings have got out. He enjoys walking down our long driveway alone, no siblings in tow to retrieve the mail. Those are some of the small things he enjoys – now I will tell you the bigger things that make him especially happy.
He has an amazing youth group at Church that he loves to hang out with – they even allow him to ride along with them on Sunday nights sometimes when they go out to eat, and let me tell you he high steps it out of the church with his billfold in his back pocket like no ones business. I will text him and ask him what time they will be home, and he will sometimes reply with a much later arrival than his mom would prefer. He goes on Sunday school trips with his youth group and they watch over him and take care of him in a very special way. He has the most amazing cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles that take good care of him. My mom holds a special place in his heart and going to her house to spend the night is one of his favorite things to do (maybe its because she fixes him his favorites foods). He has been through a lot of medical procedures and surgeries the last couple of years and he never complains, but he faces them with a strength I do not posses. One of the greatest thing I can tell you about Tanner is that he loves the Lord. Dathan and I have found him kneeling down at his couch in his room multiple times praying – he enjoys testifying at church and loves to praise God for the good things He has done – he has even been known to thank the Lord for saving his dog Marlowe, or jumping up and saying Yabba Dabba Doo. There are so many things he does that makes me think of you, or something you would have done. God blessed Tanner and I with someone very special after you left us, you would really like him. He treats Tanner like his own and takes him places he enjoys and lets him experience fun things with the guys. He stepped in with grace and became an amazing second Dad to Tanner. Tanner brings more joy and happiness to our life than we could have ever imagined.
Perry, you and I both dreaded the day when he was this age, you more than I, and I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s always easy when I see him missing out on some of the things his friends his age are now enjoying that I know he would enjoy as well if he didn’t have the needs he has. Yes, sometimes I cry, and sometimes I feel grief when I realize his life is so different in so many ways, but then I run into moms and dads who have a young son of their own who is able to go about and enjoy all the things in life so to speak, but maybe their child has chosen the wrong path in life and they too feel grief and sadness – I realize their sadness is much deeper than any sadness I ever feel. I understand that simply being a parent can bring sadness and heartache to us as our children grow up and face disappointments in life. Perry I can tell you that any sadness I feel always gets pushed out with the joy that Tanner brings me, and I believe you would feel the same way if you were here. I wanted you to know how well he is doing – you would be so proud of him. He has a wonderful life and I would not change him for the world – no need to be sad for him because he isn’t able to experience some of the things his friends are now experiencing. I can tell you first hand he so happy. When I feel sad for him I know it’s way harder on me than it is on him, and that, I know for sure! We are living the best life now, “Tanner style”.
Until next time…..Chera