Sometimes I’m certain people laugh a little when they hear us speak DAR – you all know what I’m talking about… DarBus, DarMail, DarBaby, DarThis and DarThat. But what those on the outside don’t know is something that I’ve discovered and it’s extraordinary.
I was born and raised in our little town of Rome, Ga., went to public high school north of town (go Blue Devils!), married my high school sweetheart and have been blessed with two wonderful sons. Everything was great with my work, my family, my friends, but then all of the sudden it all came to a screeching halt.
In November 2015, my oldest son Matt was in a near-fatal car accident. He was badly injured—16 broken and fractured bones including his legs, hip, jaw, nose and three skull fractures. He suffered a traumatic brain injury that caused his brain to begin swelling. He required seven surgical procedures, spent three weeks in a trauma unit, an additional three months in a hospital/rehabilitation center and finally many more months in outpatient therapy.
The journey was long. At times, we didn’t know what would come next. We would take a step forward then two steps back. We didn’t know how we were going to manage everything from answering all the questions from friends to where we would lay down to sleep at night. Throughout this time, we received help from the Model High School community, where three generations of our family have attended and graduated. It’s no less gratifying to have their support but not something you wouldn’t expect, but it’s very special when the support comes from an unexpected place.
You see, the only connection I have to Darlington is that I work here. No one in our family has ever attended nor graduated as a Tiger, but that didn’t stop this community from reaching out to our family when we needed it. The blessing of a room at the Ronald McDonald House (Matt would turn 20 years old in a month, which is beyond the age limit and a Darlington alumna served as an advocate for us), to the many co-workers who made sure we had the supplies and food that we needed to get by, to the kind family in Atlanta (a Darlington Trustee) that gave us a home away from home with a kitchen stocked with food, and another Trustee whose visits to us at the Shepherd Center brightened our day and gave us an additional resource to call on. When one door seemed to close, our prayers always seemed to open a new one.
I’ve tried to make sure to thank everyone who lent a hand and showed their support through any means; food, resources or prayers, but always felt I hadn’t done it thoroughly. Even to this day, I have students and faculty stop me in the hall to ask how my son is doing and if there is anything they can do to help. To those who said a prayer for our family – thank you; to those who visited with us – thank you; to those who helped us with needed resources – thank you; to those who honored Matt by hosting a blood drive – thank you; to my co-workers for making sure all my work was covered – thank you and to this great place that allowed me the time to see my son through his recovery and where I am fortunate enough to work, Darlington School – THANK YOU!
In our lives we are blessed with family. But family isn’t always by blood or last names, more often than not, it is defined by commitment and by love. Families are those who show up when they are needed most, having each other’s back. Families are those who choose to love each other through the good times and bad. Families are those who never give up on each other. I have been blessed to have three families: the ones with whom I share a name, the ones with whom I share an alma mater; and the ones with whom I share a world.
Maya Angelou once said, “My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.” If you become a part of this Darlington family, that’s exactly what you will find…kindness. Whether you are a student, graduate, faculty, staff, housekeeper, maintenance or security, the kindness, generosity and compassion are here, it is what the world should be, can be and what you will find in DarWorld.