Mother’s care helps son recover |

Mother’s care helps son recover

If someone were to ask me what part of parenting I do not like, I would answer the part that makes me “worry.” I have spent the past 21 years of my life “worrying” about my children.

I never watched my son, Glenn, snowboard because I “worried” that he would run into a tree.

When my daughter, Heidi, was involved in high school rodeo, I would turn my head and close my eyes until I heard the reaction from the bleachers. I could tell by the cheers if her ride was a success or failure. I “worried” that the horse’s hoof and my daughter’s head would one day meet, and I couldn’t dare to watch. I missed her finest moments.

My youngest daughter, Shae, was a cheerleader, and I can’t tell you how many times I couldn’t breathe when her fellow cheerleaders would throw her up for a stunt. I always “worried” that someone would drop her, and rightly so – there were a few times she came down with a bounce. The cheerleaders didn’t like when I watched them because I made them nervous when I yelled, “Don’t drop her!”

It wasn’t that I didn’t want my children to experience life; I just never wanted them to get hurt. Now, looking back, I wish I had watched every moment. We can’t control how our children walk through the day, let alone protect them from life. It wasn’t until I met Teresa Casterson of Grass Valley that I understood my fears. Our worst fears can become reality, but Teresa showed me fear can become a great triumph.

On March 23, 2003, Teresa’s son, Michael Stanton, was in Adelantro, qualifying for Round 2 of the Western 4-Stroke Motorcycle Nationals, when he went down around a muddy corner. While he was on the track, a passing racer struck Michael in the helmet with his foot peg, resulting in a traumatic brain injury. Michael remained in a vegetative state for nearly five months. Michael spent months in hospitals and returned home to Grass Valley in August of 2004, in the care of his mother and her husband, Paul.

I met Teresa and Michael a few weeks back. I would describe Teresa’s home as the true definition of perfection. Her home is immaculate, her smile is inviting, and her son is amazing. The day I met them, I couldn’t seem to find my words. I just stood and listened to Teresa’s story of their journey together: A mother and son defying all odds. Michael is in a wheelchair, and it takes them hours to get him ready for the day. Teresa works daily with him, doing flash cards, reading … communicating. Michael’s memory is incredible.

When I finally found my words, the only question I could ask Michael was, “Was riding a motorcycle worth it?” He looked over at me, smiled, and in a small whisper said, “Yes.”

This past week I spoke with Teresa on the phone and she said, “Gina, a few days ago I went into Michael’s room to check on him and he was awake. I went over to him, brushed his hair out of his eyes and said, ‘Michael, what are you thinking about?'”

He mumbled something. I asked him again. He mumbled again.

“One more time, Michael. What is it you’re trying to say?”

Michael took his right hand and throttled. He was thinking about riding his motorcycle.

Teresa said to him, “Michael, if you can get these four things together: torso control, balance, strong back and work on your vision muscles, I will let you ride a four-wheeler with assistance on your birthday this July 25.” Michael smiled, and their training has begun.

Teresa says, “It has been a long process, but he improves daily.”

I can’t imagine what Michael’s outcome would have been had Teresa not said to the doctors, “Excuse me, but he’s my son and I’ll be taking him home now.” Most people thought he needed 24-hour “experienced” care, but what Michael needed was the greatest care of all … love from his mother.

As Easter approaches, I’m reminded of life and new beginnings, and Michael is a great example of someone who is working hard at life to receive a new beginning.

If you would like to learn more about Michael, please log onto his Web site at:

There’s an old quote that reads: A mother understands what a child does not say. I believe with all my heart Michael would agree that quote was written for his mother.


Gina Gippner is a Penn Valley resident and mother of three. She can be reached via e-mail at or computer chat at


Updates on Michael Stanton’s recovery from brain injury sustained in a Motocross race.

How to help

To make a contribution to Michael Stanton’s recovery, send donations to

The Michael Stanton Fund

201 Commercial St.

Nevada City 95959

Account #04465-01222

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