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Matthew The Gift of LIFE … Joannes Story

By Pat Wiedemer as told to me by Joanne. On a recent rainy day, Joanne agreed to share her story with me. Joanne is an Island girl with a large extended family. She is a mom of 3 and a grandmom of a 2-year old. Joanne’s fortitude and love of LIFE lives strongly in the hearts of her children and grandbaby. It all rests in the fact that years ago Joanne made a single decision for LIFE.

Sitting in her car, only weeks after she delivered her baby, she was deciding if she should place him in an adoptive family or take on the responsibility – as a college student – of raising her boy as a single mom. Through the radio she received an answer from a woman singing about her boy “He would be 16…”. Joanne knew in that moment her baby boy, was hers – she had given him LIFE and was not going to be separated a moment longer.

Everyone has a past as to how we got to where we are. Joanne experienced a past that, sadly, many women know. There was physical and sexual abuse, alcohol, and at 21 she discovered she was pregnant from a man who was not her boyfriend. As hard as it is, all things can work for good, and Joanne accepted the gift of a beautiful bi-racial child, Matthew, and chose LIFE for herself and her son. Her boyfriend and his extended family stood by her. When telling her own family, she remembers her dad saying:

“He is our flesh and blood. What more needs to be said?”

Matthew now

The years went by and Matthew grew into a man of great character. He has served as a fire-fighter, a military man, excelled at athletics, and presently is a stay-at-home dad for his baby girl, Athena. He is now training to become a paramedic. What a gift for PEI!

When Joanne told me her story, we were often on the verge of tears at the pain of many circumstance and the joy of others. She finished college, worked three jobs at many times, and went through the hard work of marriage, children, and relationships.

Yet, she recounts the moment when she found out that she was pregnant possibly from a man who was not her boyfriend. She says, “I was unable to make any decision or to say anything, to tell anyone…I was devastated… How did it come to this?”

Living in Ontario for college at the time, she went to a Planned Parenthood clinic. They would look after me she thought. She describes the woman who met her as a rather severe-looking older woman in a grey suit. She took me into the room, and I sat on the examination table.

Matthew & his two sisters & Joanne
Mattthew and Athena

What I remember is what she asked me: “What is keeping you from having this baby?” After realising through this woman that she could indeed say YES to LIFE, she thought “She must have been some sort of angel with her own agenda!” She truly was an angel. There was no talk of ending the baby’s life that day. How wonderful it is, to discover God’s agents working incognito in areas where we would never suspect!”

“Matthew was born in October just before Thanksgiving. He is truly a gift from God as his name proclaims.”

He has gifted his mom with opportunities to love beyond human ability, to grow in fortitude and perseverance, and to choose LIFE. Matthew has gifted us in PEI with his strength, skills, joy, and with a baby girl who will learn, love, and live LIFE. The choice for LIFE will live on because years ago, Joanne said yes.

What a gift we receive when we choose LIFE. The years of happiness, tears, trials, and tribulations still add up to the fact that LIFE is worth it! How many young parents and young families are struggling today? Can you speak a word of encouragement to them? Tell them how grateful you are for their gift of LIFE. Like Joanne, we will see the glory of our efforts. She looks at her son and beautiful grandbaby and says, most assuredly:

It was worth it!!

Matthew giving his mom away at her wedding

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