Wendy Kelpin could lose her son, Shane, any time to the cystic fibrosis that ravages his lungs and intestines.
She savors every moment with the 6-yearold boy, right down to brushing his blond hair into the Elvis Presley swoop he wants. In a way, Wendy’s grateful she knows what she’s dealing with.
She can squeeze a little more out of Shane’s life while parents who lose a healthy child to a car accident or some other catastrophe don’t have that chance.
“I want to tell people to appreciate their children,” she says, as Shane presses his knobby knees against her legs. “Who knows what will happen?”
Wendy and her husband, John, had every reason to expect a healthy baby. Their first child, Heather, radiated good health. But six months into Wendy’s second pregnancy, doctors knew something was wrong.
She and John were so confident their son would be fine that they didn’t even donate blood before his birth. But newborn Shane was no bigger than a Cabbage Patch doll when doctors had to remove half his intestines.
At one month, tests showed he had cystic fibrosis, which is fatal. A defective gene causes his body to produce an abnormally thick, sticky mucus that clogs his lungs and digestive organs. There is no cure.
His parents learned they each carried the gene and their union activated it.
“At first it was out there like a monster. Why our kid?” says Wendy, her childlike optimism chasing any trace of sadness from her voice. “But that’s just the way it is. You have to accept it and move on with life.”
Wendy’s faith carried her through Shane’s life-threatening infections, his surgeries, each illness. He’s grown into a winsome independent boy whose life depends on daily mist treatments, chest poundings and the right balance of enzymes.
“He’s turned into such a joy,” Wendy says, smiling at the little boy sprawled in the living room of their Coeur d’Alene home. “I won’t dread the future. Now is the time we’ll enjoy and we’ll enjoy every detail.”
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will hold a carwash at Tidyman’s in Post Falls Saturday to raise money for research. It also will hold a 10-kilometer walk starting at 2 p.m., Sunday, at Gonzaga University’s Martin Centre in Spokane.
So what if it ain’t the Mississippi?
Whatever floats is welcome on the Spokane River on Saturday for Post Falls’ first Huckleberry Finn Raft Race. The races start at 2:30 p.m. at Black Bay and run to the Spokane Street Bridge - about one mile.
These won’t be dull, folks. Someone is bound to sink. Organizers are giving prizes to the most creative handmade rafts. They expect vessels of paper, plastic bottles, plastic foam, logs and anything else that might float.
Canoes, kayaks, innertubes and pontoons are welcome, too.
Rita Toof of Post Falls says St. Pius isn’t the only big-hearted church out there. The congregation at St. George’s Roman Catholic Church in Post Falls brings food for the food bank to the first Sunday service each month. “And we’ve been doing it for seven years,” Rita says.
I’d say, “I’m out of money,” to explain to my young daughters why I couldn’t buy them something. What would they say? “Write a check.” The bank is grateful I didn’t follow their advice…
What pearls of wisdom have your children shared with you over the years? If they’re printable, zip them to Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 83814; FAX them to 765-7149; or call 765-7128 and make me laugh.
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