Just Get Them Talking…..

by Donna Kirk on July 5, 2013

Saturday July 6, 2013 is third anniversary of Matthew’s death. It seems impossible that we haven’t seen him in so long. It still seems impossible that we lost him.

When a child dies, everyone wants to keep his memory alive. My own compelling need during his life and after it ended was to write a book about him.

But the most obvious way to keep Matthew with us is to talk about him. Bring him into family conversations – everyone remembering the good times and the sad times.

But what about new family members: our granddaughters, Sloane born in 2009, and Reese, born in 2010? Sloane was just sixteen months old when Matthew died and Reese never met him.

We want the two girls to understand and admire the challenges and accomplishments of their uncle. We want the valuable messages of his life to have a positive impact on them. We want them to appreciate the gifts and talents of others who have a developmental disability and a mental illness.

So, we discuss the pictures of Uncle Matt that hang on our walls and stand on our shelves.

“Here’s Uncle Matt swimming on national television when he was only two years old. I hope you’ll both be able to swim as well someday.”

“There’s Uncle Matt with his graduating class at Thomas A. Blakelock High School.”

“Look, he was mini-golfing in this picture. Here he is standing beside a sail boat – he wasn’t too crazy about boats, but he loved Disney World!”

“That’s Uncle Matt when he was best man in your Mommy and Daddy’s wedding. And here, he is standing while Aunt Kelley reads his best man’s speech.”

“This picture shows him delivering his newspapers. He worked hard at that job for fourteen years and put his money in the bank.”

“Ah, here’s Matt chilling out with his yellow bowl – the one you’re playing with now.”

“And look, at Marineland he’s reluctant to feed the animals, too! But, he loved the rides, especially the roller-coasters!”

Uncle Matt couldn’t talk but he learned to communicate through hand signs. Do you know any hand signs?

Yes, you’re right, Uncle Matt was smart.

Two year old Reese sometimes points to pictures of Matthew and says, “There’s Daddy.” I love that she recognises the similarities between my two boys.

One day last spring four year old Sloane and I were riding in the car.

“Gramma?” she said.

“Yes, honey…”

“I miss Uncle Matt.”

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Stewart July 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Donna. What a fabulous article on Matt. I still remember getting the phone call from you. It seems
like yesterday. We had just wheeled Matt around the hospital and taken him outside. You were exhausted and Matt kept pulling at his air line. You kept putting it back in place, he kept pulling it out. Man he hated that!

Matt has been in my thoughts all day

Love Mary xoxo


Crystal July 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

I love this article and can’t believe it’s really been 3 years. Sloane says she remembers him. I hope she does. Whenever we drive to your house, both girls always wave at the graveyard where Matt is resting and says “hi Uncle Matt”. We miss him dearly and I would have loved to have my girls grow up knowing their incredible Uncle Matt.


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