This is my uncle, Jeffrey Shea.
Until a few days ago when my family took a quick trip to North Carolina where Jeff lives, it had been 17 years since I'd seen him last.
When Jeff was born, doctors told his parents that he would certainly not live past the age of 9. That he would never walk, talk, hear, or see. At the age of 48, Jeff has done all of those things: he has walked, talked, heard, and seen. He is a miracle. He has the mind of a 16-month-old child and it is fascinating to watch him. It is more fascinating to think what he must be thinking at any given time. And it will be a joy someday in Heaven - when Jeff is whole - to hear all about what his years on earth were like.
At one point in the day, I sat by Jeff on the couch. He laid his head on my lap and looked up at me.
And then he fell asleep.
It's a wonder what being around someone who is mentally and physically disabled can do to you. You feel so thankful for how God has blessed you with a healthy mind and body. But even more, you feel deep gratitude for simple joys. Jeff doesn't worry about bills or what he'll wear. He doesn't have the capacity to. And yet, God has cared for him so tenderly since day 1.
At one point in our visit, Jeff started rocking back and forth, uttering one of two words he knows: "Fuuuuun! Fuuuuuunnnn!!!" He knew he was with family and it was precious to hear him utter his joy in the moment.
I also want you to meet Curtis and Jackie.
They are Jeff's caregivers at the O'Berry Center and they are Jeff's favorites (and mine, too, though I haven't met any of the other staff.) :)
Curtis has cared for Jeff for the past 18 years and we could not ask for more incredible people to be with him. You can feel their love and compassion for him.
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."