​Summer’s Coming to an End

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on September 07, 2021 # Lifestyle

Collie Family photoI feel like summer just started. How is it almost over! My third son Kaden graduated from high school this June. That’s three kids down and one more to go. 12 years of school completed. Check. Time to relax, enjoy the weather heating up, schedule some pool and beach day’s vacation mode is on. Our family of six booked a trip to Maui as our Summer kick-off after finding a perfect little condo that was wheelchair assessable that worked for my oldest son Zack, a quadriplegic. The back patio was steps from the ocean. We spent 12 glorious days there, listening to the ocean waves and touring the island. It was not long enough. I think a month, or maybe a year, would be nice!

There is something about Hawaii that eventually puts you into a relaxed mode. It takes me a couple of days to detox from my busy schedule and put down my dam phone. I hate being addicted to my cell. I’m not even on social media, but I can always seem to justify the constant checking of my phone and doing work stuff on it. Kaden bought this thick plastic container that locks anything you put inside it for however long you set the timer for, so it literally cannot open until that time is up. I have not been brave enough to put my cell phone in that yet. Since Zack is paralyzed, and I am his full-time caregiver, I feel like he needs to be able to get ahold of me at any time. For example, just yesterday, he called and said he was stuck inside his van; the ramp wouldn’t go down. I wasn’t home, so I called a couple neighbors, but none of them were home. Luckily Zack’s other brother Levi happened to come out of the house and saw him. We usually laugh about that stuff later, but in the moment, it can feel stressful.

SunsetI don’t like being on call constantly, but it’s important for now anyway. If other family members are home with Zack, it’s a good time to turn off my cell for a while. I remember the days when we had a home landline telephone and a separate answering machine. You would go about your daily business and only check the message’s once you were back home. You could return calls at your convenience. I know I’m getting older when I hear myself tell my kids about the good ole days. My parents and grandparents did the same thing. I guess what you grew up with probably feels the most natural.

This Summer, my 16-year-old daughter Laila and I made a list of my favorite 80’s & 90’s movies. We started watching them together, and so far, she has not been disappointed. I like to point out how films were shot on location rather than in a studio in front of a green screen. It has been a great mother-daughter activity. I love the summer vibe. The (almost) guaranteed sunshine, the flexible schedule, staying up late, and sleeping in.

I really enjoy my kids being home. Since 2010 when Zack broke his neck in a beach accident at age 15, the four siblings have bonded. It’s one of the things I sometimes wonder about. Would they be this close had Zack not had that accident? His siblings were five, seven and 13 at the time of his injury. That day changed our lives forever. It was a devastating and heartbreaking circumstance. It’s been a decade-long journey so far. The fact is though life goes on, it doesn’t even bother to slow down. The seasons come and go, so I’ve learned to roll with it. I am trying hard to enjoy what’s here and now. We love to BBQ or make smores on our outside firepit, take the dog for walks and sometimes we are lucky enough to get a spectacular sunset view from our own backyard. I will miss you summer, but I know you’ll be back around very soon!

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.