The State Journal

Son helps father learn to live with disability

T.J. Kimble was sitting at the railroad crossing he drove over every day on his way home. 

He was ready to stop his car on the tracks there were no crossing gates, so it would look accidental. But as he heard the blast of the horn, he cried out, "Lord, please send someone who can understand what's going on inside of me and help me get better." 

The outburst surprised him so much he missed the train. Eighteen years later, he's alive and well- a fact he attributes mostly to his son, Joshua, who was born two years after the incident. 

He's sure Josh, now 15, was sent to help him understand what was going on inside of him and help him get better. 

Josh was born with Down syndrome. In the hospital, TJ. and his wife were told of all the things Josh wouldn't be able to do, but Josh showed the world what he could do. 

"My friend Joshua had a disability more severe than mine, but yet still finds ways to live beyond his own disability," T.J. said. "The older he became, the more he inspired me to live beyond my own depression. I began to realize my son Joshua's Down syndrome had turned my depression upside down." 

On July 19, TJ., Josh and a group of supporters will arrive at the steps of the Capitol after a 96-mile walk from Radcliff to raise funds and awareness to empower others with disabilities. 

When T.J. was 6, he lost control of his bicycle and ran it into a moving car. Knocked unconscious, he awoke in a pool of blood bigger than he was. He said the compound skull fracture that resulted was the start to a lifetime of challenges. 

The complications began in first grade when he was moved to a special education classroom and was never put on the track for a high school diploma. 

"I had struggled all my life," he said. "I now know that was, in large part, due to my head injury." 

TJ.'s father was killed in a hit-and-run car accident in Dallas when he was 10. The stepfather who later became part of his life was nothing like his biological father, he said. 

"My stepfather was very abusive," he said. "I've had a loaded gun - he and his drug-dealing and drug-taking friends, they pointed a loaded gun at my left temple and cocked it." 

But he lived to tell about it. T.J. also lived to tell about the time he got into a particularly bad fight with his stepfather, which resulted in him having his head slammed against concrete multiple times. 

"I couldn't take it anymore," he said. "I remember thinking, 'Whatever normal is, this isn't it. I think I'm just going to leave here."" 

He jumped a fence and never returned to that house, despite being home less for almost a year. T.J. wandered from trash bins to a campground to a trailer park when it got really cold. 

"I just remember one day I got down on my hands and knees and I prayed," he said. “I remember, 26 years ago, I prayed: 'God, if you're out there and you're really real and you care about somebody like me, then send somebody to tell me about your love." 

Not long after, a woman showed up to the trailer he was staying in and asked him if he would like to go to church with her and her husband. "That was one of the miracles that happened," T.J. said. 

T.J. later moved in with the family that invited him to church and eventually went to school to become a minister. He met a woman named Liz, and they've now been married for 20 years. 

Despite the stability and security he found in his church and his wife, T.J. still didn't feel right. 

"I realized that something was still very wrong inside of me," he said. "I was clinically depressed, and I didn't realize it. I can't put into words the intensity and the gravity of the pain I felt.” 

He remembers three distinct instances in which he tried to end his life, including the railroad incident. The suicidal tendencies stopped when Josh was born in 1997. 

"I began to feel the barriers and layers of insulation break down around me," T.J. said. "I began to feel these acts make me feel alive again." 

The little acts of love Josh displayed inspired T.J. to overcome his own disability, the clinical depression. He's working on a book, to be titled "The Joshua Factor Story," to compile the many ways Josh has touched not only his life, but others' too. 

"It just became infectious," he said. "I found myself in a place of whole- ness, and I was like, 'Wow, I want to help other people. I want to help them discover this.'"

T.J. went to school to become a clinician, a time when he began to understand what happened in his own life. 

For two years now, T.J. has operated a practice, Your Best Life Now Counseling, from Lifeline Assembly of God in Radcliff. T.J. employs a faith-based counseling approach. 

Mostly, he counsels families with children with disabilities. He helps them see beyond the disability.

Jul 14, 2013