In May 35 years ago, our family received the most special gift of all — a precious baby grandson with special needs. The third grandson, he was named Brandon. All of his life we have highlighted what Brandon can do despite his cerebral palsy and he never ceases to amaze us. I often get to spend his birthday with him since it falls very close to Mother’s Day.
Sure, I would be lying if I said it isn’t hard at times, but honestly, the happiness and pride he brings, is beyond words. This year we took a trip to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The first evening we were out walking in Victoria and encountered a grandma riding a scooter. She pulled up next to Brandon and his step dad, Tyler, and without a word, challenged them to a race!
She took off like a flash, uphill leaving all of us in the dust — but Tyler gave it a good go. We were all laughing so hard. I just love that personal connection between people! She was a hoot and thanked Brandon and Tyler for the challenge. It gave all the surrounding people a big smile as well.
Within the next couple of days, we got to see Brandon hike the Wild Pacific Rim Trail in his awesome new wheelchair that has a third wheel out front for stabilization — again powered by Jones. With both the morning and evening walk, we probably did at least 8 miles that day, maybe 10. What beautiful scenery! The trail was the brainchild of Oyster Jim Martin who was credited with its design, building and choosing the view points. He even made most of the benches, etc.
Brandon has this infectious laugh and delightful squeal which makes anyone happy who is within his range. In other words, when he’s happy he shows it and we know it! The next place on our agenda was “Goats on the Roof.” Talk about great publicity and advertising — this is a busy place with fresh goods for sale, a huge variety of ice cream, a couple of restaurants and goats living in little houses atop the buildings. We bought some fresh veggies and a loaf of jalapeno cheese bread to eat in that night — one of the best meals we had all week!
Did I mention that Brandon is an expert skier? He pairs with Tyler in all the Special Olympic races and they are awesome. No one ever told him he should not take his sit-ski on the steep slopes of the snowboard bowl at Copper Mountain. He and Tyler caught the attention of a Denver news cast, so I got to watch them on my neighbor’s TV the next day. How exciting! The faster, the better — Brandon loves it!
The outdoor adaptive team from Telluride is truly awesome. They devised a way to take Brandon, wheelchair and all, on a paddle board. He now has his own board and loves going out on Ridgway Reservoir. He puts me to shame. I am too afraid to get out there myself on a paddle board, yet it looks so fun! One thing he has not accomplished is to make Grandma quit being such a chicken!
Brandon became very ill with infections for a few days and it scared his parents and me to death. He is back on track now and we are all so grateful. My heart goes out to those with children who experience serious illnesses. There’s nothing much worse.
What I wish is that some place could be established in this area for those with physical disabilities — a place where they could reside and be well-cared for — a place that’s safe and not necessarily under government control and regulations, yet could be affordable. Guess I just keep hoping for some billionaire who needs to spend money and would love to help. Any takers out there?
Marilyn Cox, a native of Montrose County, grew up on a farm and was always surrounded by countless family members who instilled the love of family and history. She retired from the Montrose County School District and, for 21 years, served as curator of the Montrose County Historical Museum.