On most days I have to find motivation to keep fighting because life is tough, y’all! Lucky for me, people like Mason Mulligan prance into my life to remind me why I must keep fighting, to laugh at silly jokes, and to stop and get your feet rubbed every now and then. Mason has had to battle with health issues, speech, academics, other delays, “the system,” and the list goes on from the time he was born, but, let me tell ya, Mason’s social game is ON POINT. I don’t know a single person who has met Mason who’s life hasn’t been changed. He brings permanent joy into the lives of those around him. I may not get to see him as much as I used to, but when I reminisce on our time together, that same joy comes flooding back.
Currently, Mason’s bladder isn’t working properly. He has been in and out of the hospital in recent years and now has to self catheter for the rest of his life. He also has developed high blood pressure and has an overactive pancreas that produces too much insulin. Most of this would be overwhelming for an average teenage boy, but Mason is above average. In his words, “I just have to ‘man-up!’” Mason and his family have used Mason’s struggles as a platform for their testimonies. According to his mom, in her experience many mothers of down syndrome children are single mothers. Tansi has been able to witness to many women she may have never had the opportunity to meet because before a family of a down syndrome child leaves the hospital, they are put in contact with another family in a similar situation. This has opened many opportunities to share how God has revealed Himself to her through Mason. These women build relationships with each other and with Christ all because of an extra chromosome and a little struggle.
Mason, too, allows God to give him courage and strength to face these difficulties! He takes his medication with no fuss and he’s really stepped up by learning to catheter himself! He, quite impressively, changed his diet and lost 15 pounds since he started in winter! Y’all! This kid loves his food. He would eat breakfast at home, come to school and eat breakfast, bring lunch from home, AND eat a school lunch. He had all kinds of homemade lunches and snacks in his lunchbox each day. When I say that this change has been impressive, I mean it! Mason’s schedule seems to stay quite busy with doctor’s visits and therapists, as well. He has “floppiness” (ligament issues in his feet) that affects his ability with activities, such as running and walking! He sees an orthopedist every 6 months to keep updated x-rays on his feet, knees and hips! He’s nearsighted and has developed a stigmatism and, begrudgingly, has to year glasses. Tansi reiterated how thankful she was that Mason is as blessed as he is despite these issues. “We’re also blessed that he did not have heart or intestinal issues which is common among Downs children!”
I was fortunate enough to be Mason’s sixth grade social studies teacher four years ago. He was and is incredibly academically independent and smart and amazed me daily. My favorite part about Mason wasn’t that he constantly made the honor roll. My favorite part about Mason wasn’t even that he was well behaved during class. My favorite part about Mason is that he made me laugh every. single. day. Each day he asked me, “What are you eating for lunch, cat soup?” Then would fall over laughing, which was contagious. He would ask a million times a day, “Hey, Ms. Boyd, wanna rub my feet?” with a huge, goofy grin on his face and it always made my day. I will never forget sitting beside him on the way home from a field trip and he was pretending to be asleep and snoring because he knew it would make me laugh. We loved picking on each other about our favorite college teams, but he, obviously, chose the wrong one. When spending time with Mason today, I asked if he, the die-hard tiger fan, planned on attending Clemson when he graduated. He said he thought Clemson might be too far away from home so, as of now, he plans on attending Florence Darlington Tech for carpentry, one of his passions. This is Mason. He is looking forward to getting his driver’s permit and attending college. He fights daily. He’s a witness for Jesus. These are my favorite things about Mason...because that *is* Mason - joy. Thank you, Mason, for bringing us joy. Thank you for inspiring us to fight, to ‘man-up.’ Hey, Mason, wanna rub my feet?