By Colleen J. Xethakis
I never imagined in my senior years I would be given the responsibility or privilege to raise a little one and help mold a life. As a single mom raising my children, I did not have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. Now I have a chance to do it again and do it right.
I am so thankful to have Alyssa in my life and sometimes wonder what I ever did to deserve such joy. Her disabilities make her an even more loving person. Alyssa was born with a segment of chromosome missing so she is missing 25 genes that control bodily functions. She was misdiagnosed and was very sick when she was placed in our home at the age of 6 months. She was given a 50% chance of seeing her first birthday and was never expected to walk.
I quit my job and made Alyssa my full-time occupation, searching for what was really wrong and what to do about it. Each step of the way in the struggle to save Alyssa’s life God sent us an angel. We struggled through and here she is.
As stewards of those things God has given us, Gerry and I believe we need to teach Alyssa how important it is to care for people and to care for all the creatures and beings in this world that God has created.
Every so often we see or hear something from Alyssa that makes us realize it is having an effect.
We travel the mountain road behind our house twice daily taking Alyssa back and forth to school. It is our favorite place to go to see wildlife, a fresh snow, new buds coming to life, or the beautiful colors of the leaves.
One morning, as Gerry was driving Alyssa to school, Alyssa said, “Dad, this road is filthy. We need to clean it up.” When he came home and told me what she had said I was so joyed to see our efforts coming through. So that afternoon, when she got home, we put on boots and gloves and we started picking up trash along the road. We cleaned only 3/4 of a mile and had six bags of litter.
On each nice day we go up and do another section. We have 3 miles done now, so we are half way toward cleaning the entire mountain road, “our mountain” road. The mountain for which we have self-appointed ourselves its stewards.
Alyssa’s teachers call her “the world changer.” They say she is going to change the world when she grows up. I agree with them, but I also think Alyssa changes the world every single day with her ability to care so deeply for all that God has given us.
Colleen J. Xethakis serves as Secretary/Treasurer of the Clinton County CleanScapes Advisory Board of Directors.