Deann and her husband, George, were making a life for themselves in their native Colorado, working hard to make ends meet and relishing the joys of having two children. But one of them, three-year-old Luke, was getting around slowly and still not walking. When they learned that he had Duchene muscular dystrophy, their lives were changed forever.
Doctors told the couple that their son would live until his late teens or early twenties, and while the news was devastating, their prayers to the Lord and relationship with God helped them enjoy every single moment they had together as a family.
In this memoir, Deann celebrates her son, who touched so many lives in a short period of time. He always had a smile on his face, and he never let obstacles get in his way. Through his actions, he inspired everyone around him to live out loud.
Luke always gave a helping hand, and his purpose in life was to share the love in his heart. His life will inspire you to overcome obstacles and recognize the importance of cherishing the ones you love.
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Read an Excerpt
A Walk Beside Me
By Deann Hummel
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 Deann Hummel
All rights reserved.
One fine day, a boy came to the door and rang the bell. A shy little girl answered. The boy asked if her brother was home. He wanted to see if her brother was going to play football that year at school. She answered, "I don't know," and slammed the door in the boy's face.
As fate would have it, their paths would cross again five years later. At that time, my parents owned a bar, and George and his wife came in on Friday nights. We all hung out on weekends, and George and I were introduced to each other once again—the boy at the door and the little sister. This time, we became friends.
Have you ever wondered why some people stay together and some don't? Only God knows why. George and his wife did not stay together. When I heard about that, I thought that George was a nice person. I wasn't sorry he was single again.
You know how you pray for something to come your way? That was one of those times. I had been praying for God to send me someone special. My prayers came true when God whispered in my ear and said, "Look, he is right in front of you. If you want my gift, go for it, it is yours for the taking."
I took a leap of faith and jumped in with both feet. I knew it was going to take some time. I knew in my heart it would be worth the wait. I wanted to let him know that I was different from other girls he had known—because we belonged together, even though others thought different. Once you keep your faith and focus on what God has planned for you, there is nothing standing in your way. As time went by, the more our love grew stronger ... and the more my family didn't approve of him.
The summer came to a close, and a new school year began. Homecoming was right around the corner. The football game was in the afternoon, and the dance was in the evening. George knew I really wanted to go, but the only way I would be able to attend was if we had permission. George went right to my front door and got permission from my parents. We were thrilled when they said yes.
My mom took me shopping to get a new dress for the dance. It was so beautiful. I couldn't wait for George to see me in it.
The day finally arrived. It took me a little while to get ready for the evening. My dad couldn't believe it was the same girl who a few hours before was in tennis shoes and blue jeans. I wanted to be perfect in every way possible.
George came to the house to pick me up. He was wearing a blue tailored suit. I was in a lacy dress. We looked like we stepped off the front cover of a magazine. He brought me flowers for my dress and some for his suit.
Everything was amazing, especially how everything was falling together for our evening. It was so special; it was like I was floating on air. We had a great time. We had so many compliments that evening. There was a gentleman who even thought we had just gotten married.
My family thought that after the dance was over, it would be the last of us. Wrong. It only made our love stronger. I know now that my family just wanted the best for me, to make sure I would not get hurt. But the more they tried to keep us apart, the more it backfired.
That summer, my sister had a baby and needed help after she got home from the hospital. So I went down to help her with the new baby. I wasn't able to leave word with George about where I was going until I got down to my sister's house to use her phone. I didn't want him to think I just up and left and he wouldn't see me again.
After we talked, George told me he had a surprise. We made plans to get together at the next softball game. Once the game was over, we met up at the high-school football field so he could give me my surprise. George pulled out a box that held a ring with turquoise stones and a silver band. It was beautiful—I loved it! It was a promise ring. He loved me and wanted to be with me.
George introduced me to his parents, and they thought I was so young that I needed to show them my driver's license to prove my age. I felt very welcome in their home. His parents were very nice.
We spent a lot of time together throughout the softball season, since we shared the same mitt and played the same position. We got to watch each other play. Our love grew stronger and stronger every day. We wanted to spend every moment together.
When it is young love, nothing else seems to matter but each other. You take a leap of faith, and there's no turning back once a decision has been made to move forward. As long as we were together, we could face what we needed to face. You know in your heart that the decision you made is not going to be easy, but you do it anyway, not knowing what lies ahead or the curves that are in front of you. Looking out for the best is the box you are about to walk out of, to take the first step into uncharted territory you have never seen.
One hot summer night, a seed was planted. Each day it grew and grew. Our love had blossomed into something real. In time, we knew how real it was—when I began to show as the blossom grew from the seed planted on that summer night under the moonlight. From that day forward, our hearts were filled with faith and a can-do attitude. We had no idea what lay ahead of us, but we knew for sure we loved each other. That was all we needed to know.
What tomorrow may bring is up to the stars and the morning light and the heaven shining bright in our hearts tonight.CHAPTER 2
It was the beginning of my eleventh-grade school year. All I could keep my mind on was the summer George and I had shared and all the fun we had, all the love our hearts had spoken that we knew was going to last. We knew we were going to have obstacles and mountains to climb to be together. We also knew that not everyone was as excited as we were. That's okay; we kept believing and pressing on.
God's plan is bigger than any obstacles that try to stand in the way. God is in control. The more you believe and exercise your faith, the more mountains begin to move. The plan starts to unfold and curves right out in front of you.
Others who have ventured down the same path are looking out for you, letting you know that it isn't going to be easy. When you are young in love, nothing else seems to matter. As long as we were together, we could face what we needed to face together. Choosing not to listen to all the negative attitudes that were going on around us was going to be hard. But all of our lives, we would have obstacles to face. The attitude you take toward those obstacles makes a whole world of difference in whether the outcome is good or bad.
You are about to walk out of your familiar box. You think you know it all and you think the world will be the same. It is like living in a fairyland. You meet your Prince Charming and you roll off into the sunset and live happily ever after. When you are young, that is what you think your life will be—just like a fairy tale.
Your expectations are too high. You are living in a dream world. You really want to get into the game of life. You decide to take that leap of faith. When you take that leap, the sky's the limit. Remember, when you fall down, keep getting up. You know that you made the right choice because, after the excitement is all gone, you are still standing and still there, with each other.
Tomorrow always comes, bringing a new and exciting day to begin again. Laughter overpowers the tears throughout the years. The smile remains to take us to another tomorrow. Keep on believing, and each day gets brighter and lighter through all the sorrows. Even when it feels like it is only dark and you are all alone, God hears you talking as your tears hit the floor and your heart breaks. His heart breaks just as yours does and he is with you.
Each day is a new day and begins to heal how you feel, as you learn to pick up the pieces and go on. Each day a new day, it is brighter than before. You dream while you are sleeping, but when your eyes are wide open, you know it is not a dream. It has come true—indeed it has. God's timing is the right timing.
Each morning going to school, I would leave really early to stop by George's house before the start of class. There were times I would not make it to school at all. That year, it seemed, I was out more than I was in. You know eventually you will be caught, but we didn't seem to care. We knew we were destined to be together.
How is it that when you are young, you want to hurry things up? You want to jump with both feet into the journey of life and hang on with both hands. The time had come for the lessons you learn when you know everything there is to know. The things you thought you knew, you did not know at all.
Your parents do know what they are talking about, because they lived it. They are there for a reason, but when you're a kid, you do not see the reason. That's okay; the only way to learn is to step out and try it out, have fun along the way, and laugh at the things you learned the hard way.
The day arrived when I got caught at George's house by my mother. Caught with both hands in the cookie jar ... that feeling you get when you know you're in trouble and the hurt that follows was caused by the choices you made in the moment. When you know you were wrong, you have consequences to face from the choices you made. This was one of those moments in time. When my mother came to the door and words were spoken, I knew what was going to happen before it happened. You can feel the vibe inside.
There was a puzzled look on my mother's face as I got in the truck, and nothing was said on the way home. However, I knew the punishment was coming for the choice I had made. When we arrived home, it was time to face the music, and there was plenty of that. However, that day new choices were given to me. It was up to me to make a choice that day. The choices were to quit school and get a job or quit school and move out. The choice I made was to move out. It has been an adventure every step of the way.
You learn to live by faith more and more each day. You find out real quick that being on your own is a lot different. When you have no plan, you lean on hope and guidance from up above. God is there, even in the middle of the night. In the dark and quiet, you think you're alone, but you're not. He has been with you every step of the way.
Real life is like a fairy tale turned inside out. When you put expectations on others, they always fall short. When you put expectations on God, he always comes through for you; beyond what you could ever imagine it to be.
The way you look at life makes a world of difference. You can give up, or you can get up and press on. Everyone starts the same way at ground zero, and you can soar from zero to hero by not staying down. Get up every time you fall down; you learn something each time. You learn as you go that life is an adventure—sometimes easy and sometimes hard. Jump in and hang on. You will always be surprised, never knowing what's up over the bend of the road.
Keep the faith; it's much better being surprised than knowing what is coming. I have learned so much not knowing than I ever did knowing first. I wouldn't change a thing. It made me who I am today. I am still learning and growing from not knowing. The faith you operate in, you will see in due time. When it is due time, God's time, you will know.
That day I moved out and moved in with George, and the adventure of lifetime began. Make up your mind and don't give up, even when it gets hard. Take a stand. Every step you take is not as hard as it seemed it would be. You learn from each step you take; these are the stepping-stones of life. The choice is yours to stand still or keep walking and learning as you go along.
Enjoy your journey while you can. Remember, everyone stumbles and falls sometimes. Getting up when you fall—that is all that matters. Keep on walking to where you are going. To get to the other side of the mountain is all that matters.
God gives you new mountains to climb and people to meet. Learn to trust him with everything. God sometimes has you out in deep waters where you feel like you are going to drown, but he always throws his line out to you. As you grab onto his line, he always pulls you to safety.CHAPTER 3
George and I were settling in together in his trailer house. It was scary and fun all at the same time. In the meantime, George's company laid him off. He had not yet received his first unemployment check.
Shortly after I moved out, my mother came and took my car back, since my car insurance was still under her name. She wouldn't give the car back until we got our own insurance, and that made it real tough finding a job. We had no money and nothing else either. I didn't think a thing about it ... until I was hungry. The only food in our place was Cheerios and milk, shared with a lot of love. I did not mind as long as we were together.
When George's parents found out that I had moved in, at first they were not too happy about it. It had only been a year or so since his divorce, and they thought he was jumping too quickly into a serious relationship. However, I wanted to let them know that I was different. I loved their son, and I was in it for the long haul, not to just move in and break his heart. After a while, his parents would come by and bring food care packages and help us until George got back on his feet.
Just around the corner was Halloween, our first holiday together in his house. We didn't have a lot of money to spend on candy to hand out. Nevertheless, we knew we needed to get some. So off to the store in town we went and got some caramel treats. It was a lot of fun to see all the costumes the kids were wearing. We gave the whole bag out that night. Thanksgiving was quiet that year; I am not sure what we did. It seemed to fade right into Christmas memories.
I do remember that Christmas like it was yesterday. Early that month, we found out that we were having an addition to our family. Indeed, it took us both by surprise that we were already five months along. By that time, my parents and I were on speaking terms. We finally got the car back after we got our own insurance. After my mom picked me up from my orthodontist appointment—I still had my braces on, not ready to take them off yet—I sprung it on my mom about being a grandma again. I think at the time, she was a little surprised but happy at the same time. At that point, I could not tell for sure what she thought.
Once the shock wore off, she brought over baby clothes from her cedar chest to give us. When I got the baby clothes, we set them on the table in the kitchen. George's parents had stopped by for a little while, but they never noticed the baby clothes on the table.
Our first Christmas together, we went to George's sister Connie's house on Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve we spent at my parent's house. When we were at Connie's, we took her aside to let her know the news of what was coming soon. We asked her not to say anything to the folks yet; we hadn't told them. She was the first one to hear the news on his side. She was just beside herself with joy and happiness for us. She could hardly contain herself. We had a great time at both places.
We thought that we needed to let his folks in on the news too. Therefore, we went out to their house to tell them about our new arrival coming in the spring. They were shocked at first, but once the shock wore off, they told us that we needed to get married right away before the baby was born. George's mom called my mom and arranged a powwow, to talk over what we should do. It was like we had no say in the matter.
It didn't seem like it at the time, but now looking back it was quite comical. At that time, I did not care how it happened, as long as we got married. We decided to go to the justice of the peace to get hitched, and that is exactly what we did on January 27, 1982. We were married and had no clue what lay ahead of us both. All we knew for sure was we were husband and wife with a baby on the way.
By the time we got married, George was back to work at the company that had laid him off. However, I wasn't able to be on his insurance for the pregnancy. Connie found out about this special program down in Denver that we could qualify for. The only catch was that we would have to have the baby in Denver. We were so grateful that Connie hooked us up with that program.
We had no clue what was ahead of us, but we were soon to find out the closer we got to the due date. The date came and went; the baby was on his time, not ours. I went down for my weekly checkup and everything checked out okay. The doctor said, "We will see you this weekend."
Sure enough, Friday evening rolled around and the pain started—slowly at first. I thought it was gas or cramps, Wrong! It was the start of early labor. Who knew? I did not have a clue.
The plan was that we would call George's folks when it was time to go to Denver. Well, that Saturday, it was time to go, as the contractions were getting more intense. Off to Denver we went, making a pit stop by my parents' house first to let them know what was going on.
Excerpted from A Walk Beside Me by Deann Hummel. Copyright © 2014 Deann Hummel. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter: 1 The Beginning, 1,
Chapter: 2 Moving Out, 4,
Chapter: 3 Getting Settled, 8,
Chapter: 4 New Addition, 18,
Chapter: 5 A Storm Comes, 21,
Chapter: 6 The Big Move, 25,
Chapter: 7 The Trip and Purchase of Our Own Home, 29,
Chapter: 8 The First Ski Trip to Winter Park, 33,
Chapter: 9 Curves Ahead, 36,
Chapter: 10 Casts On, Casts Off, 40,
Chapter: 11 The New Wheels, 46,
Chapter: 12 The Condo, 49,
Chapter: 13 On the Move Again, 53,
Chapter: 14 Some Good, Some Sad, 57,
Chapter: 15 A Friendship, 61,
Chapter: 16 Senior Year, 66,
Chapter: 17 Graduation, 70,
Chapter: 18 Police Station, 74,
Chapter: 19 The Big Surprise, 78,
Chapter: 20 The Light Will Shine Through, 84,
Chapter: 21 The Surgery, 88,
Chapter: 22 What Tomorrow Brings, 96,
Chapter: 23 A Letter Home, 100,
Things I've Learned from Luke's Life, 101,
Closing Thoughts Between a Mother and Son, 103,