For the family of Billy Lackey, life has come full circle at the Children’s Center.
Billy, who was born with Down Syndrome, was one of the first children to come through the Early Intervention program in Western Tidewater. Born in 1980, Billy received EI services from a young staffer named Rosalind Cutchins, who was fresh out of college.
Billy had a strong sense of humor. He loved birthdays and family gatherings. He graduated from Franklin High School and worked for Winn Dixie and then Food Lion. His mother, Carolyn, said Billy was a special person who touched the life of everyone he met.
“Billy was really lucky. He had good help and his heart was healthy and he didn’t have many of the complications that other kids with Down’s have,” she said. “I would put him down on his stomach and he would roll over, which was perfectly normal for an infant, so that was a sign that Billy was going to do things his way.”
Fast forward to December 2009, a sad time in the Lackey home when Billy died at the age of 29. Carolyn began attending the Parent Bereavement Group at the Children’s Center. Ironically, the group is led by Rosalind Cutchins.
“It’s interesting how things turn around in your life,” Carolyn said.
Reminded of Billy’s sense of humor, Carolyn had an idea for a support group meeting.
“As we faced his first birthday without Billy, I looked for ways to remember him with others. I did not want others to forget what a special young man he was. I saw these redneck wine glasses and knew Billy would have loved them. I also knew they would make the other group members smile. This year, I gave out the red Solo cup glasses. What a perfect combination to celebrate Billy. It was sophisticated tailgating for the red Solo cup,” Carolyn said chuckling. “I gave them to everybody and we all had a good laugh. It’s funny because Billy loved Toby Keith and that was before the song Red Solo Cup came out.”
Carolyn is a great member of our support group, Rosalind Cutchins noted.
“She shares stories of Billy, listens to others, and makes us smile. The circle of life is blessed through the generosity of spirit of these members who reach beyond themselves to help others while remembering their precious children,” Rosalind said.
The annual Bereaved Parents Candle Lighting Ceremony will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 9 at the Paul D. Camp Community College Workforce Development Center, 100 North College Drive, in Franklin.
The ceremony gives parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends the opportunity to honor the memory of a special child. The public is invited to attend.
Those attending are invited to bring memory items of their loved one such as a picture or special memento that represents the life of their child.
The Children’s Center Bereaved Parent Group meets the third Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the Texie Camp Marks Children’s Center, 700 Campbell Avenue in Franklin. The next meeting is December 16. The support group is open to community parents.