Austin Alan Harris
Austin is the little brother Kevin never had. Kevin absolutely adored Austin. Austin absolutely adored Kevin. Austin was my last full time daycare child. He was born with Spina Bifida and paralyzed from his waist down. He is like my own son. I so appreciate having him in my life. He was just a newborn when he came to share our lives and home. I knew I was going to take care of him prior to his birth. The day I lost Kevin his parents came immediately to bring Austin to me. They knew he would be the one person I would want to see that day. I so appreciate them for doing that for me.
Austin’s parents are Terry and Karen Harris. His sister is Michelle. He has wonderful parents, sister, and family, but he is my baby too. I bonded with him from his birth and I will always love Austin like my own son. I was lucky to be his daycare provider. There is so much I could write about Austin, but I will hit the major points only. He could not use his legs so he learned to combat crawl instead. He was not talking at 2 years old so I taught him American Sign Language to talk to me. He was like a sponge soaking up every sign and word. He loved to make messes, despite his inability to walk. He loved playing in the dirt outside. He especially loved cars. I had so many cars at my house that were all Austin’s. He loved being the center of attention. I loved introducing him to the world around him, pulling him in his wagon to his great-grandmother’s house close by, and taking him out to just watch the trucks and cars that zoomed by. I was his playmate and he knew it. He would hide my shoes so I couldn’t go get Melissa and Kevin from school. He loved that one-to-one time with me. When I started taking care of Austin I cut back in my daycare to just Kira and him, but after a year Kira started school and so it was just him all day long and he got very spoiled by me. I couldn’t help it. He was just too cute not to spoil.
Kevin playing Santa Claus and hugging Austin
Kevin loved Austin. We heard his first gut wrenching laugh one day when Kevin was walking and accidently tripped over the two-step walkup in our living room. I was holding Austin and he just burst out laughing until his little tummy just shook. So needless to say, Kevin “tripped and fell” over and over again that day and Austin laughed like that every time. I could not correct Kevin in front of Austin or Austin would burst out crying. When Austin was about 4 years old he was at his grandmother’s house and just started talking in full sentences for the first time. He would sign and talk. After that when I tried to correct Kevin Austin would cry these big tears and say to me, “What are you mad at Kevin for, he didn’t do nothing.” Kevin held him, played with him, rocked him, showed him off to everyone, and was very proud of Austin. Kevin was really into skateboarding and insisted I get Austin a skateboard too. We would lay him on his tummy, strap him onto the skateboard that was wide enough for his body, and he would skate with Kevin. He loved it. So did Kevin. They both were “all boy.” One day when Austin had crawled into my kitchen, emptied every cabinet and drawer to could reach, and made a super mess all over my kitchen floor, Kevin sit down right in the middle of this mess with Austin and showed him how to use pots, pans, spoons, and dishes to play music. That was one noisy day and after that my kitchen dishes became their music instruments. One day Austin’s dad showed up early and walked into this kitchen mess. He just shook his head and said, “You have more patience than I do.” Another day Austin had used ketchup with chocolate and vanilla pudding and was finger painting. He then decided to put makeup on me with his paint and we were covered with ketchup and pudding. Another time he decided to paint my kitchen floor with ketchup while I was in the bathroom. He did not let his legs stop him from doing whatever he wanted to do. He got mad at me one day and I asked him if he wanted me to carry him to the high chair to eat or not and he said to me, “No, I will walk there myself.” Of course, he combat crawled to the high chair but his words were priceless. I spent more time on my tummy playing with Austin then I did cleaning house or doing anything else when he was with me. My heart is so full of special memories of Austin during these early years of his life. I took care of him until he was 6 years old. He was really a daddy’s boy. One day I had heard, “My daddy this and my daddy that” all day long. I finally said to Austin, “Is there anyone in this world except your daddy?” He looked at me and so matter-a-fact said, “YES, MY DADDY!” How could I not love a kid like that!
Austin was one of Kevin’s pallbearers for his funeral. Today Austin is a teenager but he will always be my baby. He is doing very well in school and very close to his family. We are so blessed to have him in our lives.