News & Stories

Doctors Said Keith Would Not Live to His First Birthday


“Can I call you Mom?” Keith, 51, asked his cousin Tracy, 47.

Normally, Keith calls her by her name. But when he is feeling low, he asks for the reassurance that comes with the name “Mom.”

Keith is diagnosed with developmental disabilities, which give him the mental functioning of a child. He also has severe osteoporosis, arthritis, hydrocephalus and seizure disorder.

At Keith’s birth, doctors told his parents that he would not live to his first birthday.

“Her love kept him alive,” Tracy said, referring to her beloved aunt, who cared for Keith at home until her death nine years ago. Keith’s father, who suffered multiple handicaps of his own, continued to provide care for Keith until his death one year ago.

After his father died, Keith moved into a nursing home for five months. However, his uncle, now the legal guardian, and Tracy were increasingly concerned about the quality of care he was receiving.

“It just wasn’t right,” Tracy said. “He needed to be in a family situation.”

So Tracy moved into a larger home that would better accommodate the needs of her family, now consisting of a middle school daughter, an 11-year-old son with autism and Keith. Tracy’s oldest son is out of the house but occasionally drops by to help.

Because of his disabilities, Keith requires assistance with all activities of daily living and 24-hour supervision to ensure his safety. CICOA provides attendant care during the week while Tracy works as an aide at her son’s school.

“Living in a family situation has been good for Keith,” Tracy said. “He has some responsibilities. He has to take turns for attention and share. We always talk about someday taking a trip to Disney World or going on the Wheel of Fortune together.”

“I feel like my aunt is looking down and really likes where Keith is right now,” Tracy finished with tears in her eyes. “I couldn’t do it without CICOA.”