May 10, 1998-Nov. 4, 2009
Life took on a whole new meaning for a young Quwanda Parks and Elford A. Whiteside, Jr. when they learned they were to give birth to a child.
Carefree days and nights would become less frequent as preparations for the new bundle of joy pushed to the forefront of their lives.
Countless prenatal appointments culminated with the May 10, 1998 birth of Jasmine Unique Chantel Parks-Whiteside.
Jasmine was born with an indomitable spirit, loads of personality and plenty of family who supported and loved her dearly. But she was also born with Aicardi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, that counted cerebral palsy as one of its symptoms.
Though she never learned to speak or walk across a floor, Jasmine left an indelible mark on the people who cared for her, comforted her and grew stronger because of her.
Sadly, young Jasmine passed on Nov.4, 2009. This is her story.
About two weeks after her birth, Jasmine had her first seizure in her doctor's office. That incident led doctors to conduct a battery of tests to determine the problem. It would take a full two years before she was finally diagnosed, her mother said. “They found out she was visually and hearing impaired and that she was mentally delayed,” she said.
The news was hard for her mother to bare, but Quwanda never lost sight of what was important – to love and nurture her first born. “It was just like me and Jas was a team,” she said. “I kind of depended on her and she depended on me. That's just kind of how we made it work. We tried not to let nobody or nothing else interfere with what we had to do.”
Despite her limits, Jasmine was not unlike other children in that she responded to bright lights, happy voices and soft touches.
She liked sweets and complained when she was upset.
Jasmine loved her two younger brothers Jicari and Keleston Bowens and enjoyed being included in family functions.
“I tried to keep her up-to-date with the other kids,” her mother said. “I treated her like a normal child. She still went to birthday parties, swimming and to the movies.”
Jasmine was a student at both Hollis Academy and Washington Center where she was involved in many activities that were designed to stimulate her senses. “You might think she was fragile or weak, but that wasn't her,” her mother added. “She had some social skills. If she didn't like something she fussed and when she did (like something), she tolerated it.
Young Jasmine spent only 4,194 days with her family, but in that relatively short time, she taught them all valuable life lessons.
“She did have a personality and a will and a desire to be here,” her mother said. “It hasn't been easy but the whole way, she never gave me a hard time and I don't feel like it's been much of a struggle compared to what some other kids have been through. I consider myself blessed. She liked watching TV and being around her brothers. She had different people coming in and out her life and she responded to them. We did the best we could with the time we were given...all of our days were good. Despite her circumstances, she was happy and healthy. The (doctors) didn't find anything wrong. It was just time.”
Today, Jasmine resides in heaven with her grandmother Annette Parks Dixon but her life and spirit will never be removed, washed away or blotted out from the family's memory.
Jasmine is survived by her parents Quwanda Parks (of the home) and Elford A. Whiteside, Jr., (Greenville) brothers Jicari and Keleston Bowens (of the home); aunts Marquita Dial (Tommy Dial) (Greenville); Carmen and Romeishia Dixon (Greenville), grandfather Thomas Dixon (Greenville); cousin and caregiver Deonna Dixon (Greenville) and a host of relatives and family friends.
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