Gift from God

So excited to share my Uncle Kent’s story – it is vulnerable, authentic, and full of love!

From an Uncle’s perspective……

Aaron’s dad is my only sibling, and Aaron is the first-born child, grandchild and nephew on both sides of the family.  As you can appreciate, Aaron is the light, the love, the soul and the inspiration to everyone in our family.

As the first born, Aaron’s birth on October 17th was one of the most anticipated days of my life, as it was with every member of our family.  Long before cell phones and use of personal emails, I still recall the updates by landline telephone, with updatesbeing share with one individual and then the information beingcascaded down throughout the family.  Aaron’s arrival was nothing less than precious and memorable event and for everyone who knows Aaron, the entire month of October is dedicated as Aaron’s Birthday month.  Nothing has changed.  I am also blessed with the privilege of being Aaron’s Godfather, this is an honor bestowed upon me that only I can cherish and hold dear to my heart.

Many of the details from October 17th have now faded, but I remember as if it was yesterday when my brother and sister-in-law told me they named their first born “Aaron”.  It was in the same breath they said the name Aaron means, “A Gift from God”.  To this very day, every time I hear Aaron’s name mentioned, the “Gift from God” reference sweeps through my head.

Of everyone in our family and extended family, I believe Aaron and I have much more in common than anyone realizes or thought much about.  Aaron and I both have characteristics that don’t quite fit into society, and it is Aaron, and only Aaron, who has taught me to be a better person and to accept life as it is God’s plan.  Aaron has taught me to be confident in my own skin and to not let the whispers, the comments, and the looks from others determine my happiness or well-being.  I am a gay man and have always thought I was the square peg trying to fit into a round hole, it’s never been easy being gay and at times, it’s been extremely difficult and painful.  But it is Aaron who has taught me to rise above the behaviors of others and be true to myself and cherish life and the love of others who care unconditionally.  Aaron loves everyone unconditionally and expects nothing in return.  Aaron embraces each day, every event, and each milestone with an infectious smile and a contagious level of enthusiasm!  Aaron has taught me to notfocus on things that I cannot change but to embrace and cherish the many blessings in my life.  Aaron’s wisdom, unconditional love and zest for life is something many of us may take for granted, but it is a lesson we should strive for each and everyday.

Aaron is a very special young man and the lessons I’ve learned from him can never be taught in a school or through a book.  Our parents have taught us to love and accept everyone’s differences but when you’re the different one, those lessons take on a whole different meaning.  Aaron’s unconditional love for me and my husband come from his heart and from his love of family, and it is something that will always be cherished.  As you know, when I hear Aaron’s name, I always remember he’s “A Gift from God”. Aaron is a blessing and my life is a better place for being his Uncle.    

Thank you Uncle Kent for sharing your heart with us.     

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The Untold Story of Thanksgiving

The Untold Story of Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving, I shared a story about how special Thanksgiving is in our home along with how Aaron brings that sparkle of gratitude into his everyday living.

However, something was left out. Not intentionally, it came about during the evening of Thanksgiving. More specifically, over the dinner, the importance of that will be clear momentarily.

As the most scrumptious dinner came to a close (shout out to momma Trofholz for whipping up her 33rd Thanksgiving dinner) things got heated quicker than the pumpkin pie in the oven. We had just finished going around the table expressing something we are grateful for, the theme appeared to be the recognition of what an absolute privilege it is to be near loved ones. The discussion of gratitude seemed to drift as we talked about the possibility of Aaron having a “man cave” on the first floor and how absolutely cool that would be.

Brief background of the significance of this discussion… My parents and Aaron moved back to Lake Bluff from Ann Arbor earlier this year. Aaron quickly claimed the front living room as his; it was not long before his Queen cassette tapes, old socks, and q-tips covered every square inch of the room. This is the room that greets everyone as they enter the home. You may think this is to everyone’s dismay, but this is our normal – this is life with that extra chromosome. We all (mostly my parents) all drop subtle hints about how cool it would be for him to move his stuff to the “man cave”. The designated “man cave” is a room off the entryway that has an awesome fireplace and most importantly doors, to close away the organized chaos. You see, that extra chromosome of Aaron’s encourages his mind to engage with his world in a structured chaos. It does not make sense to us, but it makes sense to him (Don’t even think about moving that Queen tape or sock even an inch-because I promise you, he will notice). So the hope for the past 5 months has been to help Aaron transition to the “man cave”.

Back to that dinner… as we all encouraged Aaron to move his stuff over because it’d be WAY cool for him, something was activated in him. He launched his dinner plate across the table nearly whipping Mary Kate in the head (and by plate I mean mom’s antique Christmas China). Miraculously, the plate was not harmed in the process.

(Enter a moment mixed with shock and chaos)

Aaron jumped up, hollered, “I am mad” and stormed away. This is not the first time this has happened, therefore over the years we have learned to let him walk away – he needs that autonomy. Much like you and I, when we are angry or upset, the last thing we want is someone telling us how to express our feelings. So, imagine how even more complex that is for an individual who does not necessarily have the words to match his emotions.

About 5 minutes passed and when the shock of it all faded, Matt, Mary Kate, and myself proceeded to find him in “his” living room. We sat down with him and we asked Alexa to play the Home Alone soundtrack. We just sat there in a brief silence followed by bursts of laughter. This is what Aaron has taught us, the power of love. This time of year can be stressful for a lot of people – disability or not. It’s hard to find the words to articulate how we are feeling all of the time, so naturally we become activated. But, the solution is how quick do we rebound? Aaron taught us the power in quick rebounds and the importance of never fostering resentment.

The ability to rebound after a not so ideal moment reinforces our humanness.

As siblings of Aaron we learned to love unconditionally… and boy, do we love hard. If this Thanksgiving taught me anything, it taught me the indescribable value of forgiveness and that it is inevitable through connecting with those around us while rebounding into love.

Seeing the similarities over the differences is the heart’s greatest ability.

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