NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina College graduate chose not to walk the stage with his fellow graduates. Instead, a graduation ceremony occurred in Nacogdoches Memorial Health's inpatient medical rehab center.
The heartwarming story is more about the love between a son and his mother than a graduation.
Cheryl Athey, a retired kindergarten teacher, has encouraged countless number of children in her life. Number one has always been her son, Jeffrey.
Now the roles have changed.
"You got this," said Jeffrey Athey, wo recently graduated from Angelina College.
Cheryl learned this month she has inoperable brain aneurysms. The simplest of tasks are difficult, plus she's lost most of her hearing. It's just another life challenge she accepts willingly.
"When I was 7 years old my mom had a brain tumor on her brain stem, and the doctors told us she wouldn't make it," Jeff said.
Cheryl went back to the classroom. All the while, the closeness between mother and son only grew.
"My mom is a giving person and really doesn't expect anything in return …" Jeff said before emotion made him speechless.
When the words aren't there, do something that comes from the heart.
As graduation music played. Jeff said, "It means more than anything to have supportive parents like you and Dad. Thank you."
The milestone is so significant, in so many ways. There's no better way to celebrate than with loved ones.
Jeffrey Athey has his degree in computerized machinist technology and currently is employed at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Cheryl continues her rehabilitation at the Cecil Bomar Rehabilitation Center at Nacogdoches Memorial Health. A former student who works there arranged Friday's graduation ceremony.