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A Grandmother’s Journey

by Susan Jongekryg

Through Family Hope Foundation, Ruby has been able to benefit from both specialized and conventional therapies designed to increase her mobility and enhance the skills she already has. Without the scholarship opportunity, the conversations at home would have been a lot more difficult.

I had already begun saving things I thought my daughter would need. The anticipation of a new little family member was overwhelming and joy-filled. My daughter’s pregnancy progressed unremarkably. She was a fit, healthy and happy mother-to-be. My son-in-law, Kyle, was incredibly supportive to my daughter. My son-in-law’s parents, Dave and Lynda, my husband, Jim and I, and many extended family were very eager to welcome this new baby into the world. Ruby was going to be one loved child. 

 I remember when Ruby was born, so tiny and fragile. She slept a lot, like most newborns. I loved to sit and watch her eyelids flutter as she dreamt. Her parents started noticing some concerning things early on. Trouble feeding. Slow weight gain. Eye movements that did not seem familiar to us or her parents. The nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right but no answers to tell her parents just what that was. Every doctor’s appointment ending with “Let’s just wait and see.” Much uncertainty. Much anxiety about the future. Wondering what to do next. Anguish over watching the new excited parents now have a wrinkle of worry about the future and what it would hold. 

Over the course of her first year, as Ruby’s health challenges began to emerge, there were many emotions that emerged as well. After many doctor’s appointments, blood tests, and a myriad of diagnostic tests, no real answers were forthcoming. Then, after one doctor’s appointment, a formal diagnosis of cerebral palsy was given. Coping with big feelings after learning that Ruby would be facing numerous challenges ahead was not easy. Like most families who receive a new diagnosis, the scramble was on to learn as much as possible, with the determination to give Ruby every opportunity possible.

The most heartwarming thing I have witnessed is the way my son-in-law and daughter have lovingly worked as a team in raising Ruby. This has not been easy at times. Due to her special needs, Ruby has required specialized equipment that will help her develop, and therapies that will encourage her progress in movement. These are costly and not covered by insurance. Through Family Hope Foundation, Ruby has been able to benefit from both specialized and conventional therapies designed to increase her mobility and enhance the skills she already has. Without the scholarship opportunity, the conversations at home would have been a lot more difficult. Her progress has been steady, and because of the skillful guidance she has received, her motor skills are gradually developing. Her family could not be more excited to see Ruby reaching new milestones!

In spite of the challenges, Ruby’s has brought so much joy to the family, more than we could have imagined. Her big smile that greets you as you walk in the door, her giggles when she finds something you did funny, her joy when she tries a new piece of equipment—her cuteness is irresistible! There has also been another benefit, that of connection. The love that emanates from her—with a twinkle in her eye, as she tries to pull off her mommy’s eyeglasses or tug on daddy’s beard, those are the moments that make my heart sing as I realize that love really is about those small moments of connection. Ruby’s birth brought so much joy to the whole family, more than we could have imagined!

Simply put, Ruby makes everything better.