Quinton McLean came into this world just over 16 years ago. His parents, Lance and Katy McLean, knew very soon that life was going to be challenge for their firstborn. Ultimately, Quint would never walk, or be able to verbally communicate. His diagnosis was very serious. Some of the doctors wondered if he would live to see his first birthday, but he most certainly did.
Quinton’s father was a patrol sergeant for the Hood County Sheriff’s Office. On June 28th, 2013, Sgt. McLean was shot by a man who had been accused of sexual assault of a minor in a neighboring county. Lance died the next day. My last interchange with Sgt. McLean was about Quinton. He and Katy had signed up for some sort of grant that would provide their family a wheel-chair accessible van. I wished Lance the best, and told him I was praying that they would be chosen! Little did I know that would be our final conversation.
Only days after Sgt. McLean’s death, a group of deputies from the sheriff’s office designed and built a ramp for Quinton’s wheelchair at the McLean home. Lance had always carried his young son in and out of the house… In a matter of weeks, the owners of a couple of local car dealerships presented Katy with a brand-new van that would accommodate Quint’s wheelchair. We live in a community that has the capacity to express love in concrete ways.
As the ramp was built and the van was secured, we should have been paying closer to Quinton. If we observed Quinton closely, we would learn that his limitations did not define his life. Quinton could not verbalize his thoughts, but he knew how to communicate! He spent more than his share of time in hospitals, so nurses became an important part of his life. His mother says: “Quint was a big flirt since birth. He loved the ladies. His smile always got bigger when any girl talked to him. If his nurse was a girl, he would smile through the shots or the needles, but if it was a man he would throw a fit! Had to look tough for the ladies, you know….” Quinton enjoyed the finer things in life more than most people ever realized!
On June 3rd of this year, Quinton’s body gave up. He entered eternity late that night. His decline in health was sudden and pronounced. And, his death shook all of us who love the McLean’s to the core of our being. Officiating at his funeral will be one of those events I never forget.
In reflecting on Quinton’s life, I have one recurring thought. His limitations did not define his life. He flirted with the pretty nurses. He purposely did things to irritate his younger sister, as he should have. When he didn’t want to do his work at school, he feigned sleep. He brought joy to those who knew him. His life had meaning.
Today, those of us on who serve on the Sgt. Lance McLean Memorial Foundation presented a scholarship in Quinton’s memory to a nursing student scheduled to graduate in December. Quinton would not want others to be defined by their limitations, so scholarship funds in his name will propel aspiring nurses to go into the world as healers. When she practices giving shots during her clinical experiences this fall, she can visualize Quint smiling through the whole thing. He was not defined by his limitations!
How about you? Are you allowing your limitations to define you?