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Best of AofA: Me and My Shadow

ShadowManaging Editor's Note: Cathy is taking a summer sabbatical. We will bring you earlier posts each Sunday. This post is from the summer of 2008.

By Cathy Jameson

I’ve waited a long time to see my son become a functional part of our family. A flood of memories came back as my husband found a picture of Ronan as a baby.  The photo sits on my desk now to remind me of what once was. I see a very happy, bright-eyed, responsive and healthy child. I love this particular photo—taken two months before Ronan’s 9-month check up—because it reminds me of such a simple time in our family’s lives. I want to get in a time machine and go back to the scene in the photo, grab that fat, happy baby and be a carefree Mom again. 

We were on vacation when the picture was taken enjoying beaches, parks, play dates and summer fun with friends in our old neighborhood. We have video of the kids being kids, Ronan babbling and rolling over.  He was almost sitting up by himself but his belly, to include very large love handles, prevented him from sitting up for too long without becoming a Weebles® wobbling and toppling over. Ronan would laugh every time we propped him up and waited for the tower to tip over.  Friends fell in love with our brown-eyed chubsta and we were so proud of him.

The last week of our summer vacation, I called long distance to our pediatrician’s office to schedule Ronan’s check up. He needed his shots, didn’t he? I started thinking about packing up and settling back in our home again. Steve was traveling a lot so we decided to send me and our two young children north for a wonderful summer away from the heat of the south.  I had friends to hang out with again and the kids could enjoy some of the sunshine instead of staying inside air conditioning for the majority of the sweltering days.  If only I hadn’t made that phone call….but I did and I can’t help but regret being so dang organized even miles from home.

These days, Ronan is still chunky, still has that stellar smile, still wobbles but that’s from his ataxia.  Ronan babbles still, but I’m counting the days to hear some real words. He loves attention from us, most especially from his Daddy. You’d think the two of them were madly in love at the amount of time they spend together. Tuck in time at night becomes a googly-eyed lovefest of snuggles, zerberts and even a lesson or two. Ronan plays a pointing game and has mastered where his body parts are. Ronan knows eyes, mouth, hands, ears, legs, feet, shoulders, knees and toes. Steve mixes it up so Ronan can’t cheat and just point to something to hear the next prompt. In the last two weeks, Steve presented a new challenge—start counting, son, you’re five now.  The two guys get all cozy under the covers while Steve holds up one hand and Ronan points to the fingers. Steve says, “One, two, three, four, five!” It makes Ronan squeal and Daddy so proud.

If you add the two new signs Ronan learned last week, pizza and car, you’d know our son is making progress. Ronan learned pizza by watching his big sister sign it. The next week, we served pizza for dinner (GFCF for Ronan). Well, the kid’s eyes lit up and he started signing something fierce.  It’s Ronan’s rendition of pizza, but it was appropriate and very approximate. Two nights ago, while Ronan was stacking blocks, he signed pizza again. I thought he was nuts. Ronan handed me the block with triangle shapes and sure enough, there was a slice of pizza on one side.  Guess what, everyone, my kid’s a genius!

I can barely cook dinner without being interrupted by my once water flicking boy who could not sit still for more than a minute or two. Ronan brings me the box of blocks and signs for me to open it. He won’t leave though once I’ve opened the case. Ronan holds my hand and tugs it down to make me sit and play with him. Dinner is done much later and with less fixins on those nights.  Over the weekend I fell asleep on the couch. Steve was playing in one of the bedrooms with everyone and I could still hear laughter while I took a quick cat nap.  I woke quickly and shouted, “Where’s Ronan?”  I lumbered through the house checking to see that all the doors leading outside were locked. I couldn’t find Ronan anywhere! I still heard the kids and Steve playing but knew Ronan wasn’t with them. The last place in the house I expected to find Ronan was in the playroom but there he was playing.  He looked up at me as if he was thinking, “Silly Mommy” and then he smiled.  Ronan was actually playing with the Lego® blocks.  I fell to the floor and asked Ronan for a hug. He came over and planted himself in my lap and just held me. 

Most everyone we see in town already knows our children, but we rarely have the chance to all go out together. My oldest is a spitting image of her father—Scottish fair skin, bright green eyes, reddish hair and such a girlie girl (well, Steve’s not a girlie girl, but he fits the other descriptions!).  Ronan, on the other hand, looks exactly like me—darker skin tones, brownest brown eyes, dark hair and full of energy. The salesclerk we saw on our outing made some gushing comments about all the children, looked at Ronan and said, “Wow, I don’t think I’ve met him before. He sure does favor you, Mom.” I was in Heaven. There are days I can’t relate to my son since his brain fog takes over his whole being. Bad days are multiplied tenfold and tantrums bring out the worst in Ronan and the saddest part of my soul.  I want so badly to be a part of Ronan’s world while yanking him into ours. I forget to tread lightly and give Ronan more time to warm up to situations. I so want my son to be normal again.  That instance, when the salesclerk brought me back to earth, I felt a sense of relief that yes, my son has issues, but an emphatic yes that this child, no matter what has happened to him, he’s mine, all mine. 

Everything I do for Ronan is meant to be shared with the world. I want everyone to know that he is working so hard to recover.  Now that Ronan is shadowing me and wanting to interact again, I remind myself that for a shadow to appear, there must be light.  These days we’re so grateful that Ronan is coming out of the dark and into the light of recovery. 

Cathy Jameson has 4 children. She is excited for her family as they are witnessing  the emerging skills her vaccine-injured son Ronan has been displaying. Recovery seems to be so much closer with everyone’s cheering and hard work.


My name is Tiffany, I live in Long Island, New York. My son is Christian he is 11 and was diagnosed with autism at 19 months. I am good friends with Cathy's aunt Malena, she is the one who told me about these wonderful articles her niece writes and how dedicated she is to recovering her son and how much progress she makes. I always ask Malena when I see her how Ronan ( and the family) are doing, she always has such encouraging news.
Anyway I just wanted to say how much I love reading Cathy's articles,not only do these articles inspire me, but it is so consoling to know that we all go through some rough times, and we all have these what if moments, and we are all human and make mistakes, but get back up and try again, tomorrow is indeed another day.
Thank you for sharing these articles, I love hearing of Ronan's progress and triumphs, and yes he is a genius indeed.
Please keep these articles coming even if they are a blast from the past!!! Thank you!

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