Back in January, a concept was born. Our very own NDM#203, Kaylene, felt that writing a parenting column for The Disney Driven Life would be an incredible way to express how Disney influences the lessons that she teaches her children. She conceived the idea of singling out a quote from a Disney movie as the inspiration for the posts she envisioned, but she didn’t stop there.
Kaylene set to work gathering up a few of her closest friends that served along side her on Disney’s Moms Panel to contribute posts like this as well. After discussion it was decided that The Disney Driven Life would be granted a brief time frame for the panelists to share this column with the site. Unfortunately, that time has now expired. But we hope that you will follow all of the awesome panelists that have blessed us with their inspirational stories as they transfer their column over to Kaylene’s personal blog, Memory Maker Mom.
Thank you to all of the Disney Mom Panelists who have taken the time to share their various life experiences. Every single post has served as a source of wisdom, and we are grateful. This final post, closing out our time with the panelists is no exception. Enjoy!
Winnie the Pooh once said, “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.”
Most children grow up thinking that their Mom will be around forever. When I was 8 years old, I almost lost mine. It was November of 1979, and my family was on our way back from enjoying Thanksgiving in Maine. My Mom was driving our little Datsun while my Dad, my brother, and I were resting. An impatient 18-year-old kid pulled out to pass 3 cars without looking to see what was coming and he hit us head on with his big Chevy Impala. I don’t recall anything until I woke up in a small community hospital room all alone. I had 2 broken leg bones, a broken collarbone, a broken tooth, eye injuries and my face was torn from my bottom lip to my chin. My brother and Dad were in their own rooms, each with significant injuries as well. My brother had a broken femur. He was in traction for 6 weeks and a body cast after that. My Dad had 150 stitches for cuts on his lip and knee. The CB radio that we had under the dashboard had embedded in his knee.
Before long, my Dad came to my hospital room. He insisted that they move my brother and me in together so we wouldn’t be alone. We learned that our Mom had been rushed to Maine Medical Center and that she was in the Intensive Care Unit. She was so badly crushed in the car that the rescue workers were unable to extricate her with one “jaw of life.” A second Hurst tool had to be sent from a town a half-hour away. At 30 years old she had lost all signs of life as they tried to extricate her, but CPR brought her back. It took them about two-hour’s altogether to pull her out. They rushed her by ambulance to the community hospital in New Hampshire. There they inserted a chest tube and put her on full life support. They later told my Dad that they were given 100 to 1 odds against her arriving alive at Maine Medical Center, the nearest trauma center.
These were some of her injuries: a collapsed right lung, seven broken ribs, her right arm so badly crushed at the elbow that they almost amputated it, broken humerus, shattered right ankle (it still has a plate and 7 stainless steel screws), left ankle so badly shattered it was like crushed ice in a glass (nothing to attach a plate and screws to), crushed cheekbones, and broken front teeth. She lost all signs of life on the way to the hospital and again a couple days later in the hospital. Two weeks later she had severe chest pains. The doctor’s were alarmed that there might be a blood clot in her lung. At 3am she was rushed down the elevator for further tests. The next test showed it was an adhesion from scar tissue and she was put on blood thinner as a precaution. She was hospitalized for 40 days. The doctors said she’d never walk again, and definitely not without a brace. Miraculously the severed nerve in her leg regenerated within six months. She was also told after taking extensive nerve conduction tests that her right arm would only fill a sleeve –she would never regain use of it. However, within three months of occupational therapy, she saw movement again.
One day the nurse brought hot water to her bedside for a sponge bath. Not realizing how hot it was, Mom stuck her left hand in the water. The nurse quickly lifted her hand out and said, “That’s too hot. I haven’t added cold water yet”. It didn’t feel hot to her, just lukewarm. Further tests showed that she had no sensation for hot, cold or pain on the whole left side of her body. After unsuccessful testing to locate the nature of the brain or spinal cord injury, she was sent to Dartmouth Medical Center. Through special diagnostics they were able to conclude that she had a bruised brain stem – which caused her deafness in the left ear, a speech impediment, and the loss of sensations of pain, heat, and cold on her left side. Every six months for 3 years the doctors retested her at no charge. They had never seen a person with this type of injury to the brain who had lived to be examined. The doctor’s learned through her case that the brain continues to repair even after several years. Previously they were sure it stopped healing after one year.
I’m thrilled to report that not only does my Mom have use of both arms, she has snuggled all 5 of her grandchildren with them. Not only does she walk without a brace, she has enjoyed Disney World with us on 3 different week-long vacations. She keeps up with her grandkids with ease. She still has nearly complete hearing loss in one ear and never regained full sensation on her left side. My brother and Dad are completely healed. I still have a scar from my lip to my chin. I could get cosmetic surgery to get it fixed, but I consider it a reminder that I’m lucky to be alive and how blessed I am to still have my Mom.
Life wasn’t easy after that car accident. My parents divorced, and my childhood was anything but magical. At times we couldn’t afford to turn the heat on. If I could see my breath in the house, we could turn it on long enough to heat the house up. Ultimately, none of that mattered though, because I still had my Mom. It’s funny how trivial things don’t seem to matter when you’ve come so close to losing someone. Watching Mom struggle with her disabilities through the years, I learned to be grateful for the simple things. I always knew that she loved me and wanted the best for me and nothing else mattered. For as long as I can remember, Mom’s favorite quote has been “Carpe Diem” (“Seize the Day”).
Over 30 years have gone by, and I have 5 children of my own now. I strive to seize the opportunity to make every day a memory.
Having a little 8 year-old girl myself right now, I can’t imagine her growing up without her Mommy. The realization that I almost had to do just that sometimes takes my breath away. A Mom plays such a critical role in the lives of her children. She not only nurtures and encourages them, but she inspires them to be their very best. It’s a tremendous calling and I am honored to have been given this opportunity five times. On Mother’s Day, I wanted to take a moment to remind you to count your blessings. I learned at a very young age how fragile life is, and, unfortunately, I’ve been reminded of that again lately. Friends have been diagnosed with cancer, and local teenagers have died in car accidents. Life can change in an instant. You never know how long you’ll be here, so make every moment count. Live each day to the fullest, and never miss the chance to let your family and friends know how much they mean to you. My deepest wish is that my children will always know how precious they are to me, no matter what happens. I’ll end with a simple quote for my kids. It’s from Christopher Robin:
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.”
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
Contributed by: Kaylene Jablecki (NDM#203) Kaylene is a DDL Parenting Blogger and proud member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. Visit the Walt Disney World Moms Panel for help planning your Magical Trip. She is not a Disney employee. The postings on this site are her own and do not necessarily represent Disney’s positions or opinions.