An unrepayable debt: a tribute to a mother who never gives up


I have to admit, I am a bit of a “momma’s boy.”

My mom, Deborah May, has done more for me than I could ever repay. Of course, that is a cliched line, but I have given her all that a person could be expected to handle, and more. And yet, she kept pushing forward for my sake. 

You may recognize her name from a few photos in the paper; she is always putting herself aside to help others out, and that’s just one of the ways that it shows.

She has always been one to offer to go out of her way to help people, especially me and my little brothers.

It is not a secret among most of the people that I know that I was diagnosed with autism at a very young age. What many of them don’t know is that the only reason that it got to that point when it did is because my mom forced the issue.

Initially, when I had issues talking and hitting those developmental milestones that normal kids go through, doctors were fishing at straws to figure out what was wrong with me. Doctor after doctor, diagnosis after diagnosis. And with my dad working long hours, the one there every step of the way was my mom.

At one point, doctors even thought I was deaf, but my mom shot that down quickly when she took me to the park and a plane flew overhead while I was playing. If it wasn’t for her, there is a possibility that it would have been found in time to do anything about it.

When I eventually did get diagnosed, the doctors told my parents that there was a chance that I would never talk, but my parents simply wouldn’t accept that.

Back then, snake oil salesmen and other con artists were taking advantage of the limited knowledge of autism by the scientific community and the desperation of parents trying to give their kids a better life. But my mom took a different approach.

She hit the books. As a recently retired ER nurse, she knew her way around much of the medical jargon in studies on autism available at the time, but the amount of effort and time she spent sifting through research and going to conferences and essentially dedicating her life to how she could help me grow into a functioning member of society. 

I was put in an extensive amount of therapies, from occupational therapy to work on my coordination to speech therapy to work on talking, to social therapy to work through some of the quirks that came with being on the spectrum.

When I started going to Farragut in the first grade, my mom had to push the district hard to get me the therapist I needed to acclimate.

It is not overexaggerating to say that she is the primary reason that I am sitting here, writing this article as an editor at a newspaper, instead of living off disability welfare.

Of course, it wasn’t just my growth as a child that she can take much of the credit for. I had my own rough teenage years, struggling both academically and mentally. I was completely checked out of life, and my mom bore the brunt of it all.

Long story short, she got me out of a place I didn’t think I would ever escape, and one that may have cut my life short if I stayed much longer. Today, I am just as functional and sociable as the next guy, and I owe much of the credit to my mom.

Obviously, she is a fighter, but my mom was put to the test yet again in 2015 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, it was stage 0, and the tumor was able to be removed through a mastectomy without much problem. Or so we thought.

An issue with the implant turned one surgery into two. Then, an infection broke out at the implant site that nearly killed her. Six years and over 15 surgeries later, the fight still continues for her.

And I will be there every step of the way, jsut as she was for me.

Thank you Mom, and Happy Mother’s Day. I love you more than could ever be described in words.

An unrepayable debt: a tribute to a mother who never gives up