Ronald McDonald House

Not A Hero — Just A Good Mom

November, 2003

By Debbie Keiser, Kailua Kona

Heroes. To be honest, it’s a word I haven’t really thought about since I was small. Superman is what generally comes to mind. Somewhere, as I grew older, he faded into the background. I became wrapped up in the events of daily life, working, creating a home, raising my son, trying to be an example he could be proud of - not a hero - just a good mom.

Clay keiser and mother
Clay keiser and mother
In September 2000, my thirteen year-old son, Clay was diagnosed with three brain tumors. He would need immediate medical treatment on Oahu. On the plane, as we were being transported to Honolulu, I found myself having a conversation I never imagined having with my child. It is the only time he has asked me why this happened to him. My only answer could be that in my life “why” has never served a purpose. We may never know why we are faced with the challenges we are given. I do believe we are given experiences in life so that we may someday help someone else. When we arrived, suddenly we were confronted with life altering decisions. With my focus on my son and his treatment, a new definition of “hero” began to creep into my awareness.

We were told about the Ronald McDonald House. In the foothills of Manoa Valley lays a home converted into a sanctuary. I’m not sure, but I think this must be where our modern day super heroes are trained. Not knowing what to expect when we arrived, we were ushered into what would be our new home for the next six months. We were given a beautiful room, towels, bedding, everything we would need to feel at home. The staff assured us that this was to be treated like our own home. Indeed, for a child thrust into such an unfamiliar circumstance it was important to make things as normal as possible for him. The staff at the Ronald McDonald House gave us stability, a home, and friends when we needed them most.

Clay keiser with monster
Clay keiser with monster
Once we were settled in our temporary new home, we found ourselves surrounded by heroes. The staff became members of our family. People came to the house to volunteer their time, talent and hearts. Individuals came forward to offer their encouragement to my son and me. Family, friends and strangers stepped forward to make sure that we were cared for, morally, spiritually and financially. One young boy, John-Michael, took a jar and a table everywhere he went and set it up asking for donations to help his friend. He alone raised several hundred dollars. He is without a doubt our hero.

Now, more than three years after Clay’s diagnosis, I am left with a healthy, happy son, and the question of how am I so blessed? How do you thank people who have touched your life so profoundly? But people do not become true heroes for the “thank yous” or glory. They do so out of compassion, because they cannot stand by amidst someone’s suffering. They come in all sizes, from a single young boy, to a large organization and the individual people that make up its staff, from our close friends and family, to complete strangers.

If you are faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, do not despair. Don’t stop believing in Superman. There are heroes everywhere. You cannot see their capes or tights. They move quietly and unassumingly among us. §

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