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Three Decades Later: Eric’s Story

Thirty years ago today my brother was born. He arrived four months too soon.

My parents describe that day as chaotic and unpredictable. Neither doctors nor medicine could restore normalcy. My mom became very ill. And they had an 18-month-old at home.

My family says Eric could fit in the palm of a hand. That’s how tiny he was. So frail and fragile— yet a fighter, too. Eric suffered a brain bleed and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. My parents were told their son would survive, but doctors did not expect he would speak, walk or ride a bike.

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Yet, together we watched a young Eric dunk his first basket and hop on a two-wheeler. He would bowl with his strong arm and do cannonballs like it was nobody’s business. He grew up to be a fearless teenager, gaining respect from his high school classmates. So much respect, that fellow students would show up to Varsity basketball games chanting his name. He was the team’s manager, though based on the poster-size signs in the stands, you would have thought he was the point guard. Eric was later crowned prom king senior year.

Eric has always expected the world. He deserves the world. And on most days, he likes to think he runs the world.

Following high school, he moved to Hollywood and quickly became a friend to the stars. Today, he is involved in a production company with the help of our dad. He is in a loving relationship. And he’s still my very protective big brother (just ask my husband).

His successes did not happen out of luck. They happened because Eric made them happen. He didn’t make excuses. Eric has always expected the world. He deserves the world. And on most days, he likes to think he runs the world.

Of course, our parents are the other superheroes in this story. Our mom dedicated her life to raising a son whose needs didn’t necessarily decrease with age. And our dad never took “no” for an answer— constantly working to pave a path for Eric so full of opportunities and hope.

It is an incredibly humbling experience to be one of Eric’s siblings. He’s got four of us— here to both cheer him on and do our obligatory nagging. It is also important to point out our extended family. The aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins who took on our family’s battles as their own. Plus, we thank the friends, mentors and sitters over the years who have become our family.

Happy three decades strong, Eric. May we all strive to have such tenacity, such fearlessness, such an ability to love and to forgive.

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  • wmphotography

    I’m quite familiar with your brothers strong will and fierce independence– I was his 7th and 8th grade teacher at West Ottawa:)
    It’s been a joy to see him grow up to be such a fine man– please tell him his former teacher Miss Warden (now Wendy Martin) said hello- and tell your mother I said hello as well- I loved working with your family! True advocates for him and they helped guide him into the man he is today!

  • Thanks for sharing such an amazing story, Lauren. Along with Eric’s courage, the other thing that shows through so strongly in this story is how much Eric is loved — and how he knows that he is loved. Happy Birthday, Eric!

  • Love the pic of him and your mom! He is a inspiration! And a hilarious guy! Please tell him hello from me 🙂

  • I was a grade ahead of him and didn’t know him as well as I should have but this is a amazing story. This story just shouldn’t be told but also shown. He’s a greater man than I’ll ever be. Like Kathy Holwerda-Wall says, he is a inspiration. That against all odds that if you want and work hard for it you will receive. Happy Birthday Eric!

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  • Rhys Thomas

    Just read this Lauren, so beautiful! The few times I have met Eric, his energy and humor have shone brightly! I can’t wait to get to know him some more and you are very lucky to have each other! X

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