The Little Candy Maker
A Personal Story For Everyone
Copyright 2010 by Geary Smith
Each morning, Somer Chanel Smith gets out of bed, takes a big yawn and rubs her eyes. Then, she looks at herself in the mirror. She has long black hair. She has brown hazel eyes. She has an energy and passion for life and learning about everything. She is outgoing and seems to make friends, sometimes without really trying. She is on the A Honor Roll and play sports at school. She combs out her hair and smiles at the start of another new day, full of excitement and possibilities. After she wash her face and brush her teeth, she can hear the faint calls of her little sister, Jessica coming from her bedroom.
“Somer,” called Jessica. “Somer, do you want to play with me?” When Jessica was born, the family picture was complete. You had two loving parents sitting down and two loving daughters. During the first two years of her life, Jessica developed normally. She learned to respond to Daddy’s deep voice. She learned to respond to Mother’s smiles and happy songs. And, she learned to respond to Somer’s laughter and teasing. She learned to roll over. She learned to grab things when placed in her hands. She learned to crawl and then walk. And, she learned to say a few words. However, it was on a Saturday morning, while at the breakfast table that Somer notice something very strange about Jessica’s behavior.
“Jessica, what is wrong with you!” shouted Somer. “Mother, something is wrong with Jessica!”
Jessica did not respond and had a blank stare on her face. Mother then dialed the telephone for the ambulance, and Jessica was taken to the emergency room at the hospital. After weeks of tests and exams, it was determined that Jessica had a stroke and had something called Aphasia. That meant that Jessica would have trouble speaking and understanding what other people are saying.
“Jessica will always have trouble talking and understanding what you are saying,” said the Doctor at the hospital. “It will be very hard for her to read and write later in life.”
“Jessica will need a lot of help and care,” thought Somer. “Now, it is time for me to truly be her big sister.”
Somer was determined that Jessica would be able to speak and understand, as well as, being able to read and write. So, she researched the internet and learned everything she could about Aphasia and treating children with similar disabilities. She treated Jessica as if there was nothing wrong with her and like a normal little girl. Several months later, Somer helped Mother carry Jessica’s bag from the hospital. It was hard at first, but Somer had learned things that would give Jessica a fighting chance at a normal life. Somer would play with her with toys to help build up her ability to name objects and communication.
“This is a doll,” said Somer. “Say doll.”
“Doll,” said Jessica. “Doll.”
And, she would read stories to her to help with her communication and verbal skills. Years later, Jessica was not only talking, but understanding everything Somer was saying. In fact, Jessica was driving the family crazy with her questions.
“Somer watch Jessica for me a minute while I go run some errands,” said Mother. “I will be right back.”
Now, Somer was completely in charge of the house. She knew to keep an eye on Jessica while in the kitchen. Sometimes she would try to turn on the oven or microwave. And, sometimes in the bathroom, she would run the hot water.
“Let’s play!” shouted Jessica. Jessica ran and jumped up and down on the bed.
“Jessica, what are you doing?” said Somer. “You should not be jumping on the bed.”
“Well, let’s go and bake a cake,” said Jessica as she ran into the kitchen. Jessica went and got the flour and sugar and poured it all over the kitchen table.
“Jessica, stop!” shouted Somer. “You are making a mess!” “Well, let’s go and play dress up,” said Jessica as she ran into Mother’s closet. Before, Somer could stop her, Jessica had on Mother’s best dress and hat.
“Jessica, put Mother’s dresses back into her closet.” Before, Jessica could move, Somer grabbed her by the arm, while she put Mother’s dresses back into the closet. Then she cleaned up the kitchen mess.
“Jessica, let’s watch a new movie, “said Somer. “Then I will read to you a book.”
“How are you two doing,” said Mother as she returned home. “Somer, you are such a big help, I would not know what I would do without you.”
“No problems at all,” said Somer with a smile. “We are just reading books.”
Five years later, when Somer was attending college, Mother would take Jessica to a center for children with similar disorders and disabilities. There they would teach Jessica language and speech skills. After class, Jessica would work at a Candy Store on the assembly line wrapping peppermint candy canes into plastic and then placing them into small boxes. The Candy Shop would sell the peppermint canes in the local stores and community. Somer would come to the Candy Store to visit Jessica after school at the candy store. As she entered the room, Jessica smiled at her while working, wearing a tall white hat.
“You are just a little candy maker,” said Somer. “I am very proud of you.”
Jessica just smiled as she continued to count the peppermint canes and wrap them in plastic. Somer could tell that everybody seemed to really care about Jessica at the candy factory. Jessica continues to need some help with her communication skills. And, sometimes she has a little trouble understanding others. However, as long as Jessica continues to try, Somer was determined to keep trying to. Somer learned a very valuable lesson in taking care of Jessica - To Live Life Fully, and Without Bounds or Limits. And, that she would always be grateful.
Your Big Sister,
Somer Chanel Smith
Acknowledgement: June is National Aphasia Awareness Month. Aphasia is the sudden inability to communicate, speak, read and write or understand language, usually at the result of stoke or traumatic brain injury. It is estimated that more than 1 million Americans have aphasia, and the number of new aphasia cases may be higher than 200,000 per year. If you would like more information, you can contact The National Aphasia Association.
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