Mark and Peggy’s Story
Our twin boys, Richard Jonathan and Mark Jr. were born in 1985. On the day of their birth, we arrived at the hospital to discover one had died in utero (Richard Jonathan). Because they were identical twins, the surviving twin (Mark, Jr., i.e. “Rusty”) suffered severe brain injury as he had outgrown the one placenta. He was microcephalic, blind, deaf and had no internal clock. He never knew when to be awake or sleep. He could not be comforted.
It had been suggested that we “put him in an institution before we learned to love him”. We said no. We found a place in Philadelphia that taught us “what to do about our brain-injured child”. Glenn Doman was the founder. We took Rusty to Philadelphia, went to classes and were given a program to follow. I asked our pastor “Where in the world will the volunteers we need come from? We hardly know anybody.”
But people did come – from all over the country, people we did not even know, to work with him in a regimen that took 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. They each donated one hour a week. It was amazing. They were young, old, children and adults. They came in the rain, in the snow and ice, in the summer and fall.
In 18 months, we created pathways to his brain. When tested for hearing, it was NORMAL. He was still blind, but when out in the warm sunshine, he would squint his little eyes as if he could see something, if only light and dark. He was beginning to crawl. He learned to be fed with a spoon and not a stomach tube.
We got into a routine, and one day, not long after his 3rd birthday, we decided that everyone needed a break. It was the day before Valentine’s Day. Our doctors suggested it too. During that time, he developed an upper respiratory infection that the pediatrician said was not serious. However, he was prone to seizures and his little system just could not fight it.
At his funeral, the church was filled to overflowing and people stood outside. It was then that Mark and I realized he had been given to us for a reason. God wanted to teach us about life through Rusty – patience, generosity, each other, hard work, forgiveness, and prayer – just everything. But mostly about love – the love of friends, family, strangers, each other as a married couple and God’s love for us.
Coincidentally, we collected enough funds to build a small playground for special needs children at one of Cherokee County’s elementary schools.
So, when Mark and I read about the efforts of Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation in the local paper, it struck a familiar nerve for us. What a great idea on a large scale! And we can honor our little twins as well as our other three boys.