A strange gift…


Like most mothers, I have been the recipient of some strange gifts in my time. When children are young, what seems appropriate in their eyes may seem downright bizarre to an adult observer not privy to the inner workings of their imagination. By the time your children reach adulthood, it is to be expected that the gifts settle into more conventional channels. The experience of those early years, however, may occasionally still stand you in good stead. Which is why, instead of being as confused as the dog by the significance of my son’s latest gift, I was jubilant.

He gave me a stone.

Not, I hasten to add, a scintillating gem set in gold or silver. Just a small, ordinary-looking lump of rock, very light and with a curious texture. It appears to be solidified lava.  In reality, it is something infinitely more precious.


For the past couple of weeks I have been bursting with the desire to spill the proverbial beans, but as this was an experiment with the potential to go horribly wrong, I restrained my fingers from tapping out the tale.

Nick has made no secret of his desire to go travelling and see something of the world and its people. It is a desire shared by many, but for most of us it is the demands of the daily grind and our personal commitments that hold us back. For Nick, there is the additional set of problems caused by the effects of serious brain injury and severely reduced mobility. He had no idea if he could travel without extensive planning and preparation, as well as taking a carer with him…and that is not the same thing at all.

There was only one way to find out. He booked the cheapest flight he could find and a hotel…and left in the middle of the night for Tenerife. Alone.


Nick doesn’t want to be just a tourist. Beyond appreciating its beauty, he has no interest in just looking at a new place; he wants to be able to get to know it and its people.

There are unseen side-effects both from brain injury and the isolation that disability can impose. The first twenty-four hours after his arrival were pretty dire, both for Nick and for me, waiting anxiously on the end of the phone. That first night, after his call, I was ready to go and get an emergency passport… and waiting for tragedy to knock on the door.

The fatigue of the journey was compounded by obstructive and officious officials, transport unable to carry the exceedingly heavy electric wheelchair he was obliged to use and the isolation of finding himself alone in a strange country whose language he could not speak. I remembered the appalling loneliness I had felt for a while when I first went to live overseas and was seriously worried.

By the end of the second day, I had just about started to breathe again.  Over the next few days, possibilities began to unfold for Nick and he grasped them with both hands. He did things that should not have been possible. Some of them were very simple things, to most of us. What is more natural, after all, in a seaside resort, than sitting on a beach or swimming in the sea? Not as easy as it sounds when you cannot walk and the electric wheelchair you are obliged to use weighs so much it would immediately sink on sand. But he found a way.

No doubt he will write about his adventures on his blog.  Much of what he achieved has to do with his own determination to Live with a capital ‘L’. The rest has to do with people…and it was his desire to interact with people that was spurring Nick onwards. Because he reached out, people were ready to help him reach his goal, ready with shoulders to get him up…and off… the mountain, in both the literal and metaphorical sense.


Without a doubt it was one such act of reaching out that was to have the biggest impact on my son. He met a couple of street-musicians and started talking to them. Between my Parisian days and his father’s music, the Bohemian life is in his blood… perhaps that explains what happened next. Nick made a generous gesture that could have led to disillusion and disappointment, but led instead to what he describes as some of the ‘best times of his life’ as he was made part of that Bohemian community for the remainder of his stay. For his final day, the cumbersome, untransportable wheelchair was left behind in favour of willing shoulders for an impromptu fiesta and jam session, high in the mountains, at the home of a local singer.

He had also found shoulders to help him jump off a volcano. Which is where he picked up my stone, knowing full well that I would understand what it meant.

Like all parents, all I have ever wanted for my sons was to see them happy and fulfilled. Seven and a half years ago, I watched my sons, both of them, in Hell… and watched, helpless, as they began to claw their way out after the attack that left Nick so severely disabled. I saw them both broken and have watched them both battle their way through the unseen fallout that is, perhaps, far worse than the physical, visible effects themselves. Though I say it rarely, and although I can have always seen the light in this apparent darkness, there has been a heavy weight of grief in my heart ever since.

On Christmas morning this year, I watched my younger son playing with his beautiful little daughter. His eyes soften and fill with tenderness when he looks at her or speaks of her. He smiles, with love for her shining about him, the way he shone for Nick in the hospitals.

When I came home, it was to cook a Christmas lunch to share with Nick. My own eyes fell on the stone he had given me and filled with tears.

Hope, after all, is a priceless gift.

You can now read Nick’s own account of his adventures here.


For those who do not know Nick’s incredible story, you can follow the links in the post, visit his blog or read it here along with details of a continuing campaign to raise funds towards the cost of an amazing off-road machine that allows those with mobility problems to access places normally inaccessible to wheelchair users. 

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in adventure, Brain injury, depression, Dreams, flight, Love, Motherhood, Nick Verron, symbolism, travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

95 Responses to A strange gift…

  1. And in the end, the value of an object has nothing to do with it’s saleability. You have an amazing family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read your son’s story, Sue, and it is incredible. I am so delighted for you all that both your sons are leading happy and fulfilling lives. I guess that is what we all strive for as moms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Happiness is hard won, Robbie, but I am watching them heal, little by little. Though some scars will never go away entirely, thay are the darkness against which the light shows.


  3. Ritu says:

    What a beautiful post…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I teared as I read – tears of hope and joy and admiration for Nick’s courage and gosh-darned affability. GREAT post, Sue.
    Onward and upward!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. El Rolyat says:

    My glasses misted up a little reading this.
    Such a wonderful, positive and uplifting story! Thank you so much for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ksbeth says:

    these gifts are immeasurable and miraculous.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. jenanita01 says:

    I can hardly see to type, and my fingers stumble on the keys… Nick’s determination and courage leave me breathless, and I couldn’t be any prouder of his accomplishments. God knows how much the sight of that rock affected you!


  8. What A Life. ❤ Nick knows how to live.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Victo Dolore says:

    Bravo for Nick! What courage it took for a trip like that. It is a beautiful, beautiful rock. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How fantastic! We see bad news all day so we think everyone is, but there are so many good people out there who far outweigh the bad. What a great Christmas gift :0)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary Smith says:

    Oh, Sue. Lump in my throat and tears in my eyes – happy tears. Now I understand your cryptic tweet about needing to blog about your Christmas. What an amazing young man Nick is. Both your sons are amazing. I’m looking forward to reading Nick’s post.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. olganm says:

    Fantastic! Such a beautiful family and so determined. I hope 2017 brings even more great experiences for Nic and the rest of the family, Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I found it hard to finish reading this post with the words swimming around like happy fish. My heart warmed to read that Nick has fulfilled his dream of travelling and I fully understand the meaning of that rock. Wishing you all joy, healing and happiness for 2017. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nick has such wonderful determination and follow through. His gift to you was beautiful and a conformation that he can and will live a full and exciting life. As mothers or at least I speak for myself, when I close my eyes for the last time I want to know my children will be fine and then and only then I shall close my eyes with a smile. I think that little rock speaks volumes. Your sons are amazing, you can smile now, xo

    Liked by 1 person

  15. quiall says:

    I am glad there was a happy ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That was a wonderful gift, with a story all it’s own. Thank you so much for sharing your sons with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. A truly amazing man. Bless him and all of you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Helen Jones says:

    That is completely wonderful, Sue. I am so pleased for Nick, and for you xx

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Eliza Waters says:

    Nick continues to inspire. I am so excited to read about his recent successful foray. Go, Nick, go! So many times I wonder about him and have to patiently wait for news. Today’s post didn’t disappoint. Send him my regards!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. They always say if you want to do something, impossibility will not stop you. Glad he found his way!!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. dgkaye says:

    What a beautiful heartfelt and uplifting post Sue. Nick is truly amazing. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  22. adeleulnais says:

    As I read this I was covered in goosebumps, the good kind. So proud that he stepped out and so proud that he found people who were kindred spirits with him. I pray that wherever he travels kindred spirits will always be found. x

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Widdershins says:

    Way To Go, Dude!!! 😀

    Ani approves of the rock, I see. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Wow, that rock symbolises so much. I am so thrilled for Nick that the first leg of his adventures got off (finally) to a wonderful start. Can’t wait to see what else he gets up to! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. noelleg44 says:

    A perfect Christmas present, Sue! Even if Ani seems a little perplexed. And don’t worry about your son – he has an inner strength and determination to carry him through wherever he goes – not that mother’s ever stop worrying about their children. I am delighted to learn that he’s made the first step in his being out on his own and successfully, too. Go Nick!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. TamrahJo says:

    I brought or sent back rocks from my travels to my mom, too – but never did I travel as far, in more ways than one, as Nick has – but happy for him. And may you survive the stress of those quiet moments when he’s following his bliss to the ends of the earth! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  27. M. L. Kappa says:

    That stone is a solid diamond! You must be very proud of your son, Sue. Btw, thanks for dropping by my blog – I’ve been a little overwhelmed lately and have not reciprocated enough. But I’m very appreciative. 💕


  28. Diane Taylor says:

    Nick is an amazing young man and I can understand your profound mother’s hope.


  29. Whoa. What courage! I don’t think I have that level of gusto. I love the photos and what a perfect commentary on his journey – a man who can’t walk taking to his wings and flying!! Makes me happy. Thanks for sending the link, Sue. 😀


  30. Erik says:

    I first became aware of you, Sue, through donating to Nick via something Diana posted some time back. And reading this made me wish I knew him. We are, it would seem, a lot alike in our view of the world, its people and travel (I never stay in the tourist areas, but “sneak” inland to see what a place is really about). And yet, he shows more courage and determination than most in pursuing his goals. I read through this once … and then read it aloud to the person next to me, because I felt it just needed to be shared.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      It was through Nick that I found your work too, Erik, and was struck by the similarities in your views. He’s planning on doing some serious travelling, bit by bit, so perhaps, one day, you can hook up somewhere.


  31. Your son is incredible. What I say here is nothing you haven’t been told. You raised a good man. Is gift is beautiful. Thank you for not stopping him from following his dream no matter how scary it is for you.


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