Day 3 – Caleb’s New Fan: Jeff Foxworthy

Caleb's Dad ~ 13th November 2010

How fitting it was to begin this day in joyful song.  We woke up a little relaxed as today’s schedule was much more low key, and designed to not be so intense.

We started Caleb’s therapy with music time where a young woman, (who reminded me a lot of Lisa Loeb in her style), sang numerous children’s tunes accompanied with her guitar, while personalizing and singing the songs directly to the kids that were in the room.

Caleb absolutely loved music time.  The entire time we were in the room, being entertained by the music, they mixed in a combination of both occupational and physical therapy, as they would have one person holding Caleb up in a stand up position while also letting Caleb have the opportunity to play along and holding an instrument.

It was so sweet to see Caleb’s bright little face, and with how much he was swaying, the therapist wondered if Caleb might have even been dancing a little.  We are not sure, but we do know that he loved his music therapy class today.

After music time, we left and went across the hall to the main gym for Caleb’s physical therapy.  While the therapist was working his arms and legs and engaging him in various play activities that were aimed at getting him to focus on objects and build strength, she enlightened us about a lot of Caleb’s movements.

When Caleb is sitting up in his wheelchair he moves his head from side to side constantly.  The therapist explained that the movements could be indicative of brain injury, but she also said that the most likely reason is because with his eyesight being bad, when Caleb is sitting upright, the only way he knows how to interact with his surroundings, (and to even know if there is something near him), is to move side to side, to see if he bumps into anything.

When she laid him down on the mat to work with him, he stopped moving, relaxed, and began to comply with the play activities.  She explained that when he is on the floor, he feels the mat on one side of him and feels much more secure.

This makes sense because for the first 3 days whenever we would move him from the bed to his chair, or vice versa, he would cry.  We at first thought  he might be hurting.  We have now come to believe that it is because of his eyesight. He was simply getting scared when he was getting picked up because he didn’t know who had him, or where he was going, or if he was safe or not.

The good news is that the therapist mentioned that the movement from side to side can be part of the healing process, and  the limitations  Caleb has with his vision is not necessarily indicative of what he will have in the future.  We believe that to be the case because, in just 2 weeks time we have gone from Caleb seeing nearly nothing, not reacting to light, etc. to now fixing his eyes on us, moving his eyes sometimes when we move, and seeing shadows and/or shapes.

Since this is the weekend, and since the therapists do not plan a hectic schedule for Saturday and Sunday, we had the next 3 hours open until our afternoon session. I thought it would be the perfect time to reinforce some of the things we had been learning over the last 3 days.

So, I had the idea of doing a little therapy with water. The therapists had told Tiffany and  I to do whatever we can think of to stimulate his body, especially his right side, as more stimulation will work the neuro connections of the part of the brain that was injured and help facilitate recovery, even of his sight.

Knowing Caleb was a big fan of playing in the water, I left Caleb in his wheelchair, got a wash tub and some water, and also got an empty water bottle and filled it with water.  I placed the wash tub at Caleb’s lap, and placed Caleb’s hands in it.  You could see the joy on his face as he felt the familiar feeling of water running through his fingers.  He moved his hands playfully through the water, sometimes moving his right hand (the hand that he tends to favor right now), up to his face, and then rubbing the water on his face.

He moved his hand back to the water and moved it back up to his mouth, getting himself a little drink. His movements were often uncontrolled, but there were moments where they became more calm and more purposeful.  Like learning how to ride a bike again after many years, the familiarity was there for him, and happiness quickly ensued.

After the time with the water play, it was time for a nap.  Mommy cuddled up next to Caleb and read him a few books, and off they went to sleep.

After naptime came Caleb’s favorite…speech therapy, which for him right now means eating time! We again repeated the steps of the previous day, first giving him spoonfuls of water, then spoonfuls of apple juice, and then quickly onto to the current meal favorite—tiny bites of yogurt! With each spoonful Caleb was able to move his mouth appropriately over the spoon to get his treat. He really enjoyed the tastes of yogurt.  He has become (which he always was) very motivated by food. His swallowing was perfect, and he is gaining more mouth and tongue control

After speech, we were done for the day, as far as our structured classes were concerned.  Tiffany and I  planned out the rest of the day and how we might stimulate Caleb and give him new experiences which would help shape and reinforce the therapy he had received throughout the latter part of the week.  We decided we would go down to a place called “The Zone”, which is a basement activity center that leads out to a mini park and beautiful fish filled pond and water fall.

As we began to go down to the elevators we caught word that Jeff Foxworthy was in the hospital at The Zone! He was there doing a fun version of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader for people in the hospital.  We went on down to the activity area to see if he was still there, as he was about to leave.  And sure enough when we got off the elevator, there he was, greeting the final people who were leaving the room!

He came up to us, shook our hand and immediately began speaking to Caleb, asking about him, how he had been injured, and about his recovery.  He reached into his bag and pulled out a copy of a recent children’s book he had authored and signed it for Caleb and gave it to him.  We took a picture and chatted some more.  It was real neat to meet Jeff Foxworthy…he is quite the average guy, and definitely one with a big heart and love of children.

We went on to the outside area of The Zone and spent some good quality time at the pond.  Caleb could, no doubt, hear the sound of the rushing waters in front of him.  I tried to get him to see the large goldfish in the pond, though I am not sure if he was able to see them or not.  His vision seemed to be less sharp today.

We made up for it in laughs though, as we hugged him, kissed him, and played with him to the point he was uncontrollably giggling and laughing out loud. After a few minutes we went over to a nearby bench and I took him out of his wheelchair and sat him on my lap.  Again, Tiffany and I enjoyed each and every single moment as we took it all in. The beautiful autumn colors, the beauty of the park, the orchestral like sound of the waters, and the majestic beauty of our son, who not just a week ago was barely able to smile.  And here he was, sitting on my lap, happy as ever, smiling as usual, and even wanting to get down off my lap, to play, no doubt.

I accommodated his wishes and took a queue from the physical therapist—positioning my hand under his bottom and securing his upper body by wrapping my arm securely around his chest.  I lowered his feet to the ground and gave him the feeling of standing up, and walking.  He loved it.  He smiled and so wanted to walk.  He still doesn’t have the strength or the coordination to walk, but he sure does have the heart and the determination!

After we came back in, Tiffany  read some books to Caleb, and about that time, Tiffany was leaving to go to a few stores to get toys.  As I mentioned before the therapists told us the kinds of toys which can really benefit him are toys that light up, make sounds/music, and toys that vibrate.

So a local sister in Christ here in Atlanta volunteered to drive Tiffany to Wal Mart and Toys R Us to get some of these toys.  That left me and little man for a whole evening alone of playtime on the floor man!

Our tradition at home usually goes as follows: when I get from work I am customarily greeted by Colby, who comes running and bouncing through the hallway grabbing my waist hugging me, or else doing the sit on the foot thing, where you have to drag him along in order to move (he loves that).

I am then greeted by a much higher pitch “hello” from a just as excited Caleb, who throws his arms up asking me to hold him.  The motive is the same, and the request is the same.  They both shout to me a resounding “Play with me daddy!” That’s when I usually have to say, “Hold on guys, let daddy put down my stuff first.” We normally play a minute, then eat dinner, and then hit the living room floor for a few hours of serious play time.

Once we got here, the first thing I asked for was a mat so we could continue that serious play time! Only this time, the play was going to be aimed at reinforcing the things we had been doing and learning in therapy, while all along making it super fun, and giving it a “super duper play time with daddy” flair!

We covered all the bases, everything from muscle strength to motor skills, to vision and hearing, etc.  I think we covered all of it.  I was most excited to see Caleb’s interest in walking.  He really pressed hard with his feet to get himself to stand upright.  He did this 2 or 3 times.

It is almost with tears that I write this last part, because tonight for the first time, it felt like I was playing with my son again, the way it was before the accident.  I realize we have a long way to go, but the looks on his face when we were playing with the toys, the smiles and giggles as I would poke at him and tickle him, the queues he would pick up on as I would use familiar old jokes with him—all of it made me come away with the joy of seeing Caleb really act more like himself than ever before.

Now, here is the amazing part! As we were playing and as Caleb was laughing, he made a few extra noises as he was giggling away.  They were like residual tones as he would stop laughing—extra noises that perhaps, he was not even aware of that was reminiscent of a voice—a voice that I believe is there, but that he has simply forgotten how to use.

The big news came a little later when after play time on the floor, when it was time for Caleb’s taste time with juice, I asked him if he wanted something to drink.  Now to give you a little background, one of the things that has always been important to Tiffany and I is that we teach our kids sign language when they are little.

Caleb was once very good at sign language before he began to talk and use the sign language less and less. From day one of being here, Tiffany started working with Caleb, reminding him of his signs he had learned. I, also, reiterated the signs when we would do certain things with him, like getting him to make the sign for drink when he wants a drink, or the sign for more, when he wants more etc.

So I took his hands and went through the motions with him, showing him the sign for drink.  I would say, “Caleb, do you want a drink?  Here…show me the sign for drink…” and then I would move his hands into the sign, and then give him a drink.

Well, this time when I brought the cup over and asked if he wanted a drink, I noticed his left hand moving a bit.  I was curious, so I supported his elbow with my hand and moved his hand up to us head. Once his hand was at head level, he straightened out his hand, made the sign of a cup, and then signed 3 times that he wanted a drink!!!! I was so amazed!!! My son was communicating with me!!!!  Words cannot describe the feelings I had and am still having after seeing that.  I am simply amazed and so hopeful of the days ahead.

After mommy got back from shopping and hearing her husband talk for another 30 minutes as giddy as a schoolboy, she got ready to do Caleb’s nighttime routine, (books and nighttime prayer). No sooner had she gotten ready to get his books, we looked over at him and he was fast asleep. The little guy worked real hard today, and now he was tired! Off to sleepy town he went.

And so, we close another day—a day that is yet better than the last.  I have to tell you life has changed for us in so many ways, not the least of which is that it has really given us perspective on the things that matter most.  I often think to myself now…back to when I was so busy in all the hustle and bustle of life, I thought that I was being a pretty good dad by coming home, getting on the floor and spending good quality play time with my kids.

I am sure in their book I am a pretty good dad for doing that.  But, what has really impacted me is how sometimes even in those most intimate of moments, we as parents can still be miles away, even when we are in the same room as our kids.

I can’t tell you of the times I would be playing with my kids while worrying about my bills, or thinking about doing this extra job  to do this, or doing that extra job to do that.  I remember right before the accident we were in serious debt pay off mode, where I was working 3 jobs.

I was going through the feeling that, if I sacrifice a little time now, work real hard, and pay off the debt, then we can get can out of the debt, do all the home repairs we want to do, get the minivan we were dreaming about, and go on the vacation we had always hoped for—AND MOST OF ALL, what I had wanted, was to get into a better “place” where I could spend more time with my kids – without worry.

And, you know what I see more clearly now?  The simple amazement and joy of my son’s eyelashes as he smiles.  The sweet smell of his breath as you are so close to him, his lips touch your face as you are tickling every part of his face with your nose. The tiny little hands that are so small you could fit two or three of his into your own hand.

It’s the little things that truly do matter. There is nothing else which matters more on this earth than to love your family and love them with passion, and love every little thing about them—even their little fingers and toes!

So, my sermon for tonight (to no one but myself) is this: never let worldly pursuits cloud your vision of the most important part of life—even if the worldly pursuits have the intention and heart goal of helping to accomplish the most important thing.  Enjoying the bountiful fruit of family can never be obtained by working really hard to get to a “place.”

It is recognizing and daring to choose to live in the place you are in, being content, and enjoying what you already have. And, even though these are lessons that my wife and I already know, they are lessons which have become ever more real to us in the last few weeks. And, though now in our lives, we have the pain of being away from our home, away from our kids, with an uncertain future, and many worries and concerns over a child we nearly lost, I can certainly say  it is such a blessing to now be in a “place” where the “grass” has never been more green.

Thank you God for the reminder of who you are in the midst of this, and the beauty of what it means to live in relationship and love in my family.

094Would you consider adding Caleb to your church and personal prayer lists? Also a fund has been set up to help offset Caleb's ongoing medical expenses and related costs. Thank you for your love and support! Donations via PayPal can be made by clicking here: 

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28 Comments

  1. Tina Crivellone

    November 14th, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Tim,
    A wonderful post about Caleb’s day! He is doing awsome!

  2. Chuck Payne

    November 14th, 2010 at 4:06 am

    Tim,

    I know it takes much of you to write to us each day, but “thank you”… as you are reinforcing so many truths about life, love, family and our faith. I know Caleb’s Journey is an unforeseeable path, which you never imagined, but in reading this I couldn’t help but to think of how God is Providing… not only for your physical needs, but more importantly, He is Providing you with SO MANY truths of life and a MUCH greater wisdom of His Ways, His Purpose and His Love.

    Our Prayers continue and I hope you know that you and your family are a Living Testiment to God’s Love and Direction for us all. And as I’m sure you know, our most difficult struggles in life are not due to the absence of God, but to the contrary, they are to be the times when we are closest to Him and in trusting Him, He Provides a Greater Good.

    May God Continue to Bless you and your family and please know that when the path leads to struggle, we will continue carrying you… In Christ’s Name, we continue to pray for your family.

  3. Teresa Pirtle

    November 14th, 2010 at 5:28 am

    As I am up early on this Sunday morning, getting ready for church, reading your post, your “sermon for the night” has touched me more than any sermon I could hear at worship service. Mt Juliet Church of Christ is having a full day of prayer today starting a series of 48 days of prayer, to end the year in prayer. The Brown family is on our prayer list. We will be praying for you and your family.

  4. Janet Fabus

    November 14th, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Tim, I praise God for He has been showing His great love for Caleb and your family. So much love and so much learned. May our LORD continue to hold you and your family in His loving arms. My prayer is for our LORD to lift up and protect and heal your whole family. In Christ love, Janet

  5. Heather Centracchio

    November 14th, 2010 at 6:03 am

    You guys are amazing! After all you have been through you have such hope and strength. I am truly impressed. I am so thankful that god has been able to comfort you and your family and get you through this trying time. Every time I read your updates they bring me to tears, It is hard to imagine being in your shoes. I will continue to pray for you and you family.

  6. Lisa Lapham

    November 14th, 2010 at 6:17 am

    I heard your story on the news and then found out that a family in our church is related to you. I have followed and prayed for Caleb from the very minute I heard what happened. Your post are such a blessing to me. Your “sermon for last night” has touched my heart more than you can imagine. I pray for strength for you and Tiffany and pray for complete healing of Caleb.

  7. Lineta Grimes

    November 14th, 2010 at 7:31 am

    You are such an inspirational man. I am a member of the Graysville Church Of Christ and I have never heard a sermon that has touched me more than the post you put on the website. I pray that you continually see improvement in Caleb and that you always lean on God for your strength. May God continue to heal Caleb and give you an your wife strength.

  8. Diane Harris

    November 14th, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Tim,
    Thank you for taking the time to write down your day’s experiences. You have quite a gift for making the reader feel like they are right there with you. Praying for you all. Praying that Colby and Connor are having a great time with their aunts and that you will all be together as a family well before Christmas.
    Blessings on you all, Di

  9. David Cowan

    November 14th, 2010 at 8:02 am

    What a story! Thanks Tim. I will be spending the entire day tomorrow with my two youngest children after working a double shift this weekend (48hrs). My contentment level just went through the roof! Sometimes the things we seek are right in front of us all along. Man, I can’t wait to get home! Praying for Caleb each and every day. May God continue to bless your family.

  10. November 14th, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Tim,

    Your beautiful update today had me smiling and crying at the same time. You and your precious family are a true inspiration to us all. Something that was almost a heartbreaking tragedy is now turning into a beautiful experience that is touching people’s lives in ways you’ll never know. God is using Caleb, your family and this experience to speak to us all….reminding us of His power, glory, grace and mercies. You and Tiffany are the BEST parents and Caleb is so fortunate that God choice you to be his parents. Thank you so much for taking the time to write these updates. I pray for Caleb and your family all day long and I have no doubt he will make a complete and full recovery.

  11. Angie

    November 14th, 2010 at 9:15 am

    In March of this year, my son had some sort of accident in his crib (when he was supposed to be napping) that resulted in a severe head injury.
    He was 16 months old at the time and did not have the ability to tell us what had happened. There were many unanswered questions and it was a very scary time for us. We spent a week at Monroe Carroll’s Children’s hospital where our guy was poked and prodded endlessly. He narrowly escaped having to have a blood transfusion and eventually he made a full recovery.
    The days that followed this injury were life altering. It gave me this new perspective on life that you are experiencing now.
    I have followed Caleb’s story with great interest. It hits home with me like no other because our own experience is still so fresh in my mind, and they are close in age, etc.

    Thank you for all of your updates; All of Caleb’s victories bring tears to my eyes. I wish your little man a full and speedy recovery.

    God Bless!

  12. Jill Childs (Smyrna, TN)

    November 14th, 2010 at 9:29 am

    This is the most beautiful thing I have read in a very long time. I am so very happy for Caleb and for all the improvements he is having. I know you and Tiffany are working so very hard with him and Caleb’s motivation and strength and courage are all paying off. He is such an amazing little guy, and I am so thankful that you allow us to be a part of your lives. Thank you for the updates.

  13. Carolyn

    November 14th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Tim,

    I have been following Caleb’s story since I heard about it on Fark, which usually isn’t a place for serious business. But since the day I heard about Caleb’s accident, I have been praying for you and your family. Thank you so much for taking your time to share with us the progress Caleb is making, you have so many people here cheering for every little milestone he makes.

  14. Kathy Cooper-Golden

    November 14th, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Caleb sure has a very loving and dedicated mom and dad. I think it is just awesome how you are going beyond your therapy time to work with him in the so called “off” hours. Caleb looks so good, like he is really trying so hard to be his regular ole Caleb. Our family continues to pray for his sight & full recovery. and of couse for your (mom & dad) strength thru all of this! With much love and prayers. Kathy

  15. Sylvia & Steve

    November 14th, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Thank you again Tim for sharing Caleb’s progress. Your explanation of Caleb’s daily progress is so beautifully written. Continuing to pray for Caleb.

  16. Sandra Krech

    November 14th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    We love your daily journey. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  17. November 14th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I’ve been following your story ever since I heard about it on the news. I think You and your wife are such amazing parents. Caleb is so fortunate to have you as his parents. I am so impressed by the way he’s inproving, just goes to show us that prayers really do work. God bless you all, I will continue to send up my prayers for Caleb. He’s such a little cutie. Please give him a big hug and kiss for all the people who are thinking about him and praying for his recovery.

  18. Misti Coleman, Slidell, LA

    November 14th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Amazing little boy y’all have – praying so hard for his recovery and for y’all.

  19. Tammi Wyatt-King

    November 14th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful progress updates! I have no doubt that Caleb’s story has brought so many closer to Our Heavenly Father. I sit with tears of absolute joy and thank Him for his faithfulness in watching over Caleb and his family. Love & Blessings

  20. Nicole

    November 14th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you so much for keeping us up to date on Caleb’s progress. I know there is so much going on with you guys and I wanted you to know how much we all appreciate you taking the time for this. Like the song says”Our God is an awesome God” and I truly believe He will bring Caleb through all of this better and stronger than ever. That is my prayer for your family.

    God Bless

  21. Deborah Peaden

    November 14th, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I am like everyone else that has commented. Your “sermon” has truly blessed me more than you wll ever know. Sometimes as a Christian, we hit a road block and think that God doesn’t answer prayers anymore. I have truly seen how the power of prayer has worked in your lives. I can’t wait to read your updates every morning as they are truly a blessing to me. My family has learned that when I’m sitting at the computer quiet and crying that I am reading Caleb’s updates. I cry everytime I read them or try to tell someone about Caleb. I put an insert in our church bulletin today explaining the story, the Pray Journey and updates. I hope to get everyone in Farmville, NC praying and pulling for Caleb like I am. I am praying for Caleb’s healing, God to give you and Tiffany the strenght that you need and for your 2 little boys at home that are missing their mommy and daddy. I’m so glad to be a part of this prayer journey.

  22. Paige Thompson

    November 14th, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    So happy for you all..thankful for the hope you have, and encouraged by your love.

  23. Darlajune

    November 14th, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    We gave thanks this morning at church for Caleb’s progress and we continue to pray for him and your family. Your words touch my heart Tim. May God continue to give you great hope and joy in the midst of this earthly trial. I just wish I could kiss Caleb’s chubby little cheeks :)

  24. Shanda Bergeron

    November 14th, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Tim, we love to hear the progress Caleb is making……We will continue to pray for him and the family.

  25. Nedra Wright

    November 14th, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Once again I have been blessed by your family. It is so amazing to see God’s handy work in the misted of your storm. May Jesus continue to surround your family with His love, strength, blessings and peace. May He provide for all of your needs. May He send extra Angles to surround your other precious children with the love that will fill the void while, Caleb, you and Tiffany are away from them.

  26. Melony Pryor

    November 14th, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    As I read your words tonight I too am reminded of the different ways God speaks to us. He tells us in so many ways of his love for us and what He wants from us. God is working in your family. I don’t know what His plan is but I know it is huge. I really enjoy reading your journal updates. I read them daily. It is nourishment for my own faith and I am sure for many others as well. It is also so very amazing to read all of the posts of faith and encouragement that others are writing in response. Caleb is a very beautiful little boy. I pray for him several times a day. I know one day he will ask you over and over to tell him the story of how he touched so many peoples lives. I am thankful that you have these journals to help you with that story.

  27. Brenda Green

    November 15th, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Tim, your post tonight was so beautifully said. I’ve thought the same things so many times and I love how you have been able to put it into words. We are praying for little Caleb and all of your family daily. We love you guys!

  28. November 17th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    We are the parents of Brian Tipps and have had your family in our prayers. Your journaling is so amazing a beautiful and we serve the most Awesome God. Not that this is your intention, but your gift for writing your journey needs to be published for other families out here. What “Hope” there is for Caleb and so many others like him, especially when we get ourselves out of the way and let God perform His wondrous works in our lives. He is surely blessing little Caleb. Our prayers are also for your other precious boys as well that they may have some good time with mommy and daddy as we know they miss you in many ways right now. Do not be too distressed if your youngest son has a little trouble rebonding with your guys because he is just so young. With time, he too, will be connected with you as he should be. God is in control of the this entire journey you are on. We pray you feel the love and strength from all your brothers and sisters, friends, and neighbors out there.

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