I had the pleasure of that with Jeremy and I love every minute of it. I'm glad we're not done yet. I remember having discussions with several people about the cost of sending a child to college. Of course it's insanely expensive. Jeremy opted for a very pricey institute but Mike and I were (and are) determined to provide him with his desires to the best of our ability. We would have done the same for Chris, financially painful but worth it for having them here. I wish for it now more than ever. So, during these discussions -when mention of the cost of college came up I always said the same thing... Here's my thoughts:
When I knew I wanted to have a family I went into it with the frame of mind that the child would be healthy and smart and grow up to contribute to the world. The child would go to school, learn some skills, get a job, possibly marry and maybe start a family. Why wouldn't I think he would be anything other than perfect? Nobody goes into pregnancy intending on a child with disabilities or learning difficulties. So now that my boys are old enough for college it's no surprise to me to pay for college. It's what I planned for all along. It's costly and we make huge sacrifices and take out loans and juggle funds to pay the semesters tuition but in my opinion it's what I agreed to in my own mind when I brought them into the world. Yes, I may be a little nuts but I think paying for college is good debt. I'm thrilled Jeremy's in the midst of it and I looked forward to the challenge of seeing Chris thru it too. I can juggle and get creative with the dollars.
So this brings me to Bob and Andy. You may have read Christopher's obituary where we asked for donations to go to St. Coleman's for the Autistic program Christopher's cousin Andy is in. It's a wonderful place where he takes the school bus and goes to school. Andy is slightly younger than Chris and Bob, Andy's older brother, a tad older than Jeremy. Our four boys grew up together. We spent a lot of time together on vacations, at holidays and playing sports. Andy doesn't speak with words yet he makes himself clear with actions. He enjoys playing with little rubber balls like you'd find in a grocery store vending machine and he carries as many as he can hold. He doesn't like to share his handful of toys much. Chris and Jeremy would try to get them from him by trying to avert his attention or sneaking their hands in for the steal. Andy's hand was always like a vice and he'd be quick as could be to stop them. Bob would laugh each time they'd try.
Rather than give you the details of Andy and Bob I thought I'd share with you Christopher's college application essay. This essay was read by his high school guidance counselor , Mrs. Jan Reilly, at his funeral. I'd like to thank Jan as I know it was tough for her. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it helps you better get to know Chris.
Thank you for reading.
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Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
I would say there are many people that have influenced me in my life so far. One of the most influential people was my cousin Bob Stewart. Bob would have just celebrated his twenty- first birthday in September but he unfortunately passed away suddenly in August 2010 from a heart condition. Bob was born with a heart valve problem. He took daily medication. I never knew that until a few years ago. It wasn’t apparent in his abilities and nobody ever said anything about it when we were kids. His classmates were stunned when they heard the news that he passed away because they all knew him as a typical kid with many friends.
The reason Bob has influenced me in a good way is because he never brought it to my attention that he suffered a health problem. Bob was the same as me or my brother Jeremy. We were all treated the same by our family too. Bob never asked for special treatment and he was private about taking his medicines so we wouldn’t ask questions. He never talked about it and we never noticed.
I spent a lot of time with Bob when we were young. We were fortunate to have grandparents with a camp where we could have sleepovers in the summer. Bob, Jeremy and I would go fishing, drive golf balls, go out for burgers and ice cream, go bowling, catch turtles and frogs, swim, watch videos and play with our Pokémon cards together. Although I was the youngest, they always included me.
Bob couldn’t do much running around so he golfed and bowled, therefore we did too. We would swim and he would use the row boat or a float when he got tired. He still stayed out in the water with us. He graduated high school with his varsity letters in golf and bowling and was planning to join the golf team at Siena College but he died a couple weeks before his freshman year began.
I admired Bob’s focus on life, not his disability. Since he couldn’t run he found a couple of sports that were less strenuous. He was a good student, a great cousin and an unbelievable brother to his younger brother Andy who has autism. Bob always made time for Andy, either to play with him or help him.
I hope to always focus on the positive things in life like Bob did. I’d like to think that when I come upon an obstacle I will find a way around it like Bob did. He was a great cousin and I miss him.
Christopher F. Stewart