A Proud Mother

I am the proud mother of six beautiful sons. My youngest son is Benjamin. We affectionately call our 6 foot, 3 inch, 290 pound baby, “Benji”. He survived our 1999 fatal house fire which claimed his twin brother’s life. That same fire left him with third degree burns over thirty percent of his body, including severe facial burns. Another result of the fire is that Benji is now also mentally challenged, due to smoke inhalation and oxygen deprivation.

Struck with severe challenges at such an early age, remarkably, Benji is the most joyful and secure person that I know.

There Are No Strangers

Anyone who crosses Benji’s path is impacted by him. He has never met a stranger. No matter how you might try to ignore him, he will get into your personal space, wave his chubby hand at you and speak, demanding a response.

Guess what?

Everyone responds. His supposedly low IQ tells him that everyone is worthy of a chance. It’s fascinating to watch him work.

As his mother, I felt my job was to protect him from the unkind stares and sly remarks that often follow the lives of those who don’t fit most people’s definition of “normal”. But, it wasn’t long before I realized that Benji didn’t need me to protect him at all. In fact, it was quite the reverse. I needed to take notes and learn from him.

What I Learned

Benji taught me that you can remain the captain of your ship, no matter what happens to your vessel or what shape it is in. You can also decide which direction that ship sails. It can float peacefully in the bay of joy and contentment or it can sail in the tumultuous sea of discontent and regret. As Benji has shown me, it’s really up to each of us. We’re at the helm of our vessels.

The Unexpected

Expecting the unexpected is a given in life. Things happen in our personal lives, our businesses and our families that we never see coming. When it does, we have to fight the temptation to let go of the helm. Instead we must get a tighter grip and steer our boat to calmer waters.

Who’s In Charge?

When undesired situations barge in and threaten to sink your ship, remember that you have the power to navigate even the most difficult waters. Fear, disillusion, and anger are waves you can sail around. If you let these difficulties take over you are headed for a sure wreck. Remember you are in charge. Never lose hope.

Tips From Benji

I learned the following tips over 14 years ago from observing my then 2 year old mentally challenged son. I find they still apply to life today:

Your ship is worth saving!

Remember life is most enjoyable when there is heart, beauty, and true confidence.


*This post first appeared on Jennings Wire where Justina is a contributing blogger.