“Mom, you okay?” Blake asked.
Cheryl Ginnings jumped out of her chair, shocked that her 47-year-old son had spoken to her from his hospital bed. Cheryl had just returned from the hall where she’d gone out to cry, not knowing if Blake would survive this latest challenge. Almost non-verbal all his life, his words were a small, miraculous moment to hold in her mother’s heart.
A Lifetime of Care
Blake was oxygen-deprived at birth, leading to multiple health issues. He eventually was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epileptic seizures. Several times, Cheryl and her husband, Monte, were told they should put Blake away in an institution and forget they had a son. They rejected that idea, and being his caregiver became their mission in life, along with raising their two girls.
When it reached a point they could no longer lift Blake, they sought a facility where he could live. After several traumatic experiences at institutions, they were finally directed to a sweet family in Denison, Texas. Though a fair drive from where Cheryl and Monte live in Lawton, Oklahoma, they knew Jason and Cassi Sheppard and their children were the right fit for Blake. Cheryl and Monte FaceTime with Blake and the Sheppards, and spend in-person quality time often. The two families are connected forever through Blake.
“We didn’t even know to pray for something like that,” Cheryl says. “You look through the dark things that happen in life, and see how God answers prayers, how the providence of God is always there.”
Cheryl intimately knows what caregivers go through. One of her books, “It Takes Courage To Be A Caregiver,” is a collection of stories, insight, and tips from three years worth of radio interviews she did with courageous caregivers. As the founder and CEO of Cheryl Ginnings Consulting, she uses her years of personal experience to shed light on the trials of families of children with special needs.
Comfort and Care Amid Fear
In 2017, Blake needed a feeding tube inserted, but the one-day surgery turned into a terrifying ten-week ordeal when the surgeon discovered that Blake’s heart and stomach were attached. A cascade of trauma began.
During these terrifying days, Blake asked Cheryl, “Mom, you okay?”
He knew she was distressed. On top of the fear of losing their son, Cheryl and Monte were exhausted, and funds were rapidly dwindling from the expense of being near Blake — 200 miles from their home.
In the midst of that time, they discovered Reba’s Ranch House.
“We never dreamed of anything that wonderful,” Cheryl says of their stay at Reba’s Ranch House. “It was like going home to a family that cared about what happened in your day, and having a place to lay down when you needed to, and then get up and go back to the hospital. My husband and I could take turns. And then to be able to meet so many wonderful people that care about the needs of those like us. The people that work there would ask every time we walked in or out, ‘How is your son?’ and would listen to us, which is what you need. You need somebody that cares about you during that time.”
Mom and Son are Okay
Ten weeks and three different hospitals later, Blake recovered from his harrowing ordeal. He returned home with Jason and Cassie. Cheryl and Monte went back to Lawton, and will always remember the impact Reba’s Ranch House had on their family.
For a time, Cheryl had someone to care for her as the caregiver. In those moments, Blake — Mom was okay.