A Hamilton mother and son share a different kind of love song

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It wasn’t just his attempts at swinging his arms to ring the bells that tugged at people who watched. Or his tries to strum her guitar that turned the moment from a carol singalong into something special.

It was the look. Her to him. And him back at her. Deep and tender and wonderful.

We’re bombarded this time of year with images of what love is supposed to look like through saccharine TV commercials and schmaltzy movies. Every Christmas card that arrives promises a bit of it. We might even hear it from someone close to us.

But to distil love down to its purest form, you need look no further than to Sara Klinck and her six-year-old son Andrew singing Christmas carols together during a couple of 30-minute concerts captured on video and posted on Facebook.

“I didn’t realize that I needed this until I started watching,” wrote one clearly moved viewer.

This story starts a little more than five years ago. That’s when, having accepted that she and her husband couldn’t have a child of their own, Sara and Joel decided to adopt.

Joel’s father was a special-education teacher and counsellor, and his grandfather had been a physician who’d looked after some patients with disabilities, so he’d been around children with challenges and unique needs. Sarah works at a number of hospices and long-term care homes, and had also worked with people with difficult issues.

“So yeah, we would be open to children with exceptional needs,” she says. “I feel by God’s grace, He got our heart prepared to the point we were ready for really profound needs.”

That child arrived in Andrew. His dyskinetic cerebral palsy means unlike some people with CP who are stiff, he has low muscle tone and is kind of floppy. Their description. He has a hard time holding up his head and controlling his arm movements. That’s just the start. He is nonverbal, nonmobile, has really no fine motor skills and has a visual impairment that makes tracking objects or faces difficult for him.

On top of this, the Hamilton couple soon discovered he had enormous challenges with eating. For the first four years they were at the hospital eight or nine times a year with emergencies. Four times he had surgery experimenting with six types of feeding tubes until they found one that worked. Still, his challenges remain vast.