by Michael T. Smith
Jeff Lograsso, a United States marine sergeant stationed in Japan, and his wife Regina sat in their hotel room in Korea, where they vacationed to watch a softball tournament. Their eighteen month old son, Kyle, played with the remote control to the television. He hit the button to change the channel over-and-over. On one punch of the button, a golf tournament or an infomercial about golf was on. His parents don't remember which it was, but it was golf.
Kyle stopped. He focused on the television. The golfers intrigued him. He watched them swing. Kyle mimicked them with the remote control. When they swung their clubs, Kyle swung the remote.
Jeff, Regina and their son returned to Japan. They bought Kyle a plastic golf club. Whenever golf was on television, Kyle watched and swung his club with professionals. Golf became his Sesame Street.
Jeff didn't golf, but a good friend of his did. He watched young Kyle swing and said, "Jeff, Kyle has a perfect swing."
Jeff thought nothing of it. His son was not even two. It was too early to think of sports.
A few months before Kyle turned two, Regina noticed something strange. When Kyle turned his head in a certain way, and the light was just right, there was a white spot in her son's eye. She took him to an optometrist. The doctor looked in his eye. "I think Kyle has a cataract." He paused, looked again, "It sure looks like one. It can be removed easily, but just to be sure, I'm going to recommend a specialist."
Regina watched as the specialist examined Kyle. She'd seen and experienced eye examines. The doctor seemed to take longer than normal. Time passed. Her anxiety grew. The doctor stared into Kyle's eyes and finally looked up. "Mrs. Lograsso, I think this is more serious than a cataract. I think your son has cancer. It's in both eyes.
"I'm certain Kyle has bilateral retinoblastoma. It's a cancer that develops quickly in the cells of the retina and spreads. It's very rare. Fewer than one hundred children in the United States develop it in a year."
Regina sat in silence. Was she hearing correctly? Did her little boy have cancer? Her voice returned. Tears streamed down her cheeks. "What can be done?" she finally asked.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Lograsso.' The specialist stroked Kyle's hair. "This is a very aggressive cancer. We have to remove his left eye. With chemotherapy, we may save his right. If we don't do this, the cancer will spread to his brain. Your son will only live three or four months."
Regina, stunned, said, "What?"
The doctor repeated.
Regina's world spun. How could her little boy have cancer? He was too young!
"Mrs. Lograsso?" the doctor questioned.
She wiped tears from her eyes. "We'll do what has to be done for Kyle."
Jeff and Regina sat by Kyle's bedside. A patch covered the spot where he once had a left eye. His recovery began immediately. Four hours after his operation, he stood on unsteady legs ands swung his plastic club. Kyle was going to be alright.
Kyle was fitted with a glass eye. Life returned to normal for a little while. One night he became ill. He labored for air. Regina stared at her young son as he gasped for air. She grabbed him up, wrapped him in her arms, put him in the car and sped to the hospital.
Part way there, she knew she wouldn't make in time to save her son's life. Regina pulled to the curb and knocked on the first door she came to. "Call 911!" she pleaded.
Regina sat in the back of the ambulance as the paramedic administered to her son. Kyle's pulse dropped so low, the paramedic yelled to the driver, "You better hurry!"
Regina closed her eyes and prayed.
Kyle developed a blood infection due to the chemotherapy. His life was in jeopardy. They arrived at the hospital. His temperature was one hundred and five degrees. With treatment, the young man recovered. At the age of three, he defied death once again.
Kyle's dad, Jeff, wanted his son to experience a real golf course, but he thought it best if his son took lessons first. He called several golf professionals in their area, but none would work with such a young kid. Only one man said, "I don't normally work with children so young, but why don't you bring him over? I'll take a look at him and make a decision."
The professional took one look at Kyle and recognized a Tiger Woods replica. He used his computer, superimposed Kyle and Tiger swinging together. They were a perfect match. Their swings were the same.
Kyle is just a little boy with an amazing talent. He has two older sisters. One day, he took his glass eye out and put it in the box of cereal his sister would eat for breakfast. She took a spoonful, started to chew, felt something, pulled it out, and began to scream. Kyle laughed and ran for cover.
Boys will be boys!
Jeff takes Kyle to the golf course whenever he can. Although he doesn't know the game, Kyle does. Dad caddies and young Kyle plays. Jeff says people groan when they learn they have to play with a kid but they soon change their tone.
On the fourth hole of one round, a member of Kyle's group called his wife. "Hun, you won't believe this, but I am being beaten by a four-year-old boy!"
At the time of this writing, Kyle is seven years old and is cancer free. His best score is 89. For a nine hole course, it's 38. These are scores I can only dream of. He would play more, but he has two older sisters. They need their parent's attention for their activities too.
When I spoke to Regina, I asked her, "How does Kyle do it? I suck at golf, and I have two eyes. Just how does he do it?"
Regina said, "Mike, the doctors think he had little or no sight in his left eye from the beginning. He sees what he always saw."
I thought about that. Young Kyle sees what he always saw. He grew up in a two dimensional world. It's his world. No one told him he couldn't golf, so he does it.
Kyle is the adventurer of this decade and many more to come. He will amaze many with his extraordinary skill and make us all reflect on the things we never attempted, because we were told, "You can't do that!"
About The Author:
Michael lives with his lovely wife, Ginny, in Caldwell, Idaho. He works as a project manager in Telecommunications and in his spare time writes inspiration stories. He has recently been published in two Chicken Soup for the Soul Books (All in the Family and Things I Learned from My Cat), in "Thin Threads - Life Changing Moments" and in Catholic Digest. To read more of his stories, go to: http://ourecho.com/biography-353-Michael-Timothy-Smith.shtml#stories
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