The JoJo Experience: A time to give thanks

Monica Godnick, Editor-In-Chief

Thanksgiving break is so close. My mouth is already watering for the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and various pies that my mom makes. The food is one of the things that first comes to mind when someone mentions

Thanksgiving. However, this holiday is all about being grateful. Therefore, in this issue, I want to take a step back and appreciate my parents, and all their hard work to balance the needs of JoJo, my special needs sister, while also always being there for my brother Bill and me.

After JoJo was born, my mother gave up her job as a pharmacist. She did it in order to be the best mom she could for JoJo: she needed to dedicate her full attention to her. She also knew that she needed to focus on Bill and me too, which required even more time. “I was coming home with a baby attached with a monitor to her heart, suction machines, and a huge white board tracking every single medicine she needed to take. There was so much going on and so much changing in my life that giving up my job did not hit me in that moment. Later as you and Bill became more independent, I became more frustrated with not having an activity of my own.

Nonetheless, I always knew it was worth it, because the most rewarding thing ever is seeing my kids grow into honorable human beings. When others also tell me that they see such a beautiful and united family, it demonstrates that my choices were right,” my mom said to me.

My mother never failed in her role as a mother. My sister Joanne wakes up every morning around 5 a.m.. My mom wakes up at the same time and gives my sister water, changes her diaper, changes her clothes, brushes her hair, makes her bed and then takes her downstairs to give her breakfast before driving her to school, which is 20 minutes away. Then, at around noon my mother picks JoJo up. Later my brother and I do our homework with JoJo while my mom cooks up a delicious meal as fast as Usain Bolt. Then, at night, with me as her assistant, my mom bathes her and gets her ready for bed. Even with all that, she still manages to go to all our school events. She still helps me with every teenage dilemma I have. She still bakes us pastries when she wants to spoil us a little. She still shows her presence and care every second of the day for us. Never for one moment of my life have I ever doubted my mom’s love for me, and for that, I will forever be grateful.

A nurse comes in two nights a week to take care of my sister since she wakes up repeatedly throughout the night and needs someone by her side to pull the covers over her, get her magazines etc. The rest of the nights of the week my father, Bill Sr, takes care of her. Every one of those nights my dad is taking care of JoJo and then at 5 a.m. he has to wake up and drive to his job in D.C. I cannot imagine the exhaustion. He works all day and in the afternoon, he comes back to take care of JoJo, help my mom with household chores, spend time with us and the cycle repeats. He also helps with feeding JoJo around dinner time and helps her go to sleep. With all those responsibilities going on my dad never complains about everything he has to do. He still patiently helps me when I don’t understand my homework, he still plays catch with my brother and goes to all his baseball games. He is always up for a family movie night. When I am crying about something, he is always there to give me a hug. I have gone through many phases of learning how to play instruments or trying new sports and my dad has been there to support it all. My father has confronted infinite challenges and never lets me down.

My parents have done everything they can to help Bill and me have normal lives while still embracing our situation with JoJo with lots of love and patience. I hope you all get the time on Thanksgiving to realize and appreciate those small things or people who keep us going in life.