We have heard and read so many kind words for our son, Austin. Some we knew, some we didn't. I was touched most by his small acts of kindness and how they helped people.
From the start, Austin was a happy baby. His nickname quickly became Smiley, as everywhere we took him, he greeted the world with a big smile. As he grew older, his smile was not quite so toothy, as he tended to sometimes be shy, but he always had a sweet smile just the same.
He was always a helper around the house, sometimes to my dismay! He loved to help clean, which as a toddler, sometimes included throwing mom's keys or phones away. He loved to cook, especially during the holidays. Each year his list would grow longer for the people he wanted to give gifts of food. Every teacher, bus driver, and others through the year would make the list. And he always helped from start to finish. I had to carry on his tradition this year, even though he was gone. Each of his teachers received a small mug of goodies from him.
Every afternoon I would pull into the driveway, he was there, waiting for me at the door to open it and carry in my laptop, groceries, and anything else. Many cold mornings he would go out and start my car, so it was warmed for me when I left.
When Tim and I had our wreck, he was phenomenal. He was only 11 at the time and so mature beyond his years. I can only imagine how scared he was from the ordeal but he never showed it. He helped me out of the hospital bed, up and down stairs, pushed my wheelchair, etc. And he helped around the house, picking up extra chores, helping Noah, and anything Tim needed too.
At dinner, he would never take seconds, unless he was sure everyone had enough food. And he was a hungry boy, always finishing his plate before we really even started! And he was such a wonderful big brother to Noah. Sure, they had their fights, as all brothers do, but he protected him. Nobody but Austin was allowed to touch Noah...or else! He babysat Noah after school, during trips to the store, and throughout the summer. And he rarely complained.
I could go on and on about how precious my son was but of course, a Mom is always bias. What makes me know Austin was wonderful is from the hundreds of cards, phone calls, and in person accounts of who he was!
The best present I received this past Christmas was from the high school, where Austin was a freshman. They delivered a wrapped box, full of letters from students telling us what they remembered of him. So many were from kids who barely knew him but he'd done some small act of kindness they never forgot.
"He helped me pick up my books one day in the hall while everyone else laughed"
"It is because of him I survived 7th grade"
"He took up for me in grade school, when everyone else made fun of me"
"He smiled at me every morning and said hello"
Simple, every day things that so many people take for granted. How easy is it to smile? I always joked with my kids they used more muscles to frown than to smile...but I didn't think he listened. :)
And his dad always shared with him about how important it was to stand up for the little guy. ...who knew he did it so much.
There were longer notes and stories kids - and adults - have told us. He was truly a hero. He made this world a better place. And now, as his Mom, I must share his story. So, as was said in his eulogy, "Pay it Forward." Help people, do random acts of kindness, smile! Together, we can all remember Austin in this way and his spirit will live on.