A weighty experience

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I walked in the bedroom without knocking. Not good for a mom to do, Jessie was right behind me. John has just showered and was in his boxers with no shirt. I glanced at him but was intent on talking to Isaac. I stopped in my tracks. Jessie looks at John and says “holy s***, John!” “What?” he replies, “I have not even been working out” Jessie and I try to close our mouths but seriously his body is beautiful. It is sculpted and a deep ebony color and he is sheepishly smiling. Seriously? When and where did that happen? Isaac rolls his eyes and says “Ya, I know, and all he does it cover it up”

I knew he was strong but this just blew me away. For most of John’s time with us we had been looking for something John might excel at and his vision impairment would not matter. Rock climbing, wrestling, music, you name it we tried it. We knew that he did much better in school and life when he had some sort of physical outlet. Nothing seemed to fit. Then some one suggested weight lifting.

A little light went off in my head and I casually mentioned it to his weight lifting coach at a Friday night basketball game, in January. He said he did not know much, but he would look into it. On Saturday I received an email saying he had contacted a retired teacher who did “Power Lifting” and he was willing to take John on. I was not at all sure what that meant but I proposed it to John and he was interested.

From there I did nothing. Which is quite impressive for this mother. John met with Mr. Miller and the next thing I know John is working with him three days a week. I do not get much out of John except the normal grunts, but he keeps going. I ask questions but really have no idea what I am asking. I know he loves it, I know he is getting stronger and I gather bits and pieces from him.

Mr. Miller is a cool, funny guy. John is the only high school kid training, the rest are twenty-something young men. This kind of lifting is way different from what they do in the gym class. He really likes it and may even think about competing some day. For now he is just building strength. He tells me about the different lifts and uses terminology that is really a foreign language to me. I try to follow but…

On Monday he announced he would not be going to lifting that night because on Wednesday he was doing a “max out” session. John explained that this was a kind of test to see how far your body would allow you to push now that it had been training. Is this something I could come watch? To my immense surprise and joy he said yes. John has always been very against my involvement in any way, just leave me alone has been a nice way of putting his clear communication to me. I was thrilled that he said yes.

On Wednesday I went with him to the weight room. He introduced me to the four other young men, all who made comments about how strong John was and one even commented on the fact that John could lift more than him. “I wish I was as strong as he is, and he is just sixteen.” Coach Miller is a stout grey haired man with large hands and beaming smile. I was looking at some trophy’s when he came up and introduced himself to me. “That was a long time ago, and most of my trophy’s are at home, my wife tells me to get rid of them but I won’t, someone else will have to do that when I die” he says with a chuckle.

We then get down to business. Mr. Miller tells me about John and a note-book he keeps with all his stats for lifting. You can tell he is super proud of John and he makes sure I understand the different lifts. I still do not get it all but the numbers are pretty clear. When he started he could bench 175 pounds. At his max out yesterday he benched 280 pounds. Did I mention John is 5’2 and weighs 158. John then went onto box squat lifts where he lifted 215 pounds for 8 sets of three reps with thirty seconds in-between. He made it look really easy. Coach Miller said he could probably max out right now with one rep at 305 pounds!

Now this may not mean much to anyone else out side our family, but to our family this is a big deal. John found someplace he can be himself, he can excel without any help and without hindering anyone else’s progress. He is independent, successful and more important than anything else is willing to include us. I do not know where this will lead, but for now we are enjoying the chance to be a part of something that puts a smile on Johns face and lifts a weight off my heart. Pun intended.


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Absolutely wonderful!!

Comment by Barb Stoefen

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