A Mother’s love/Pay it Forward for Aaron

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 12, 2017

Aaron’s Senior picture

Christie Kirchenbauer (front row, second from left), poses with her group from “Pay it Forward for Aaron” before handing out blessings to patrons of Dairy Queen April 29.

By Denise York
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–Christie Kirchenbauer is a dynamic bundle of energy but the first thing she will tell you is “I’m a Mom and I’m his Mom.” The son she is talking about is Aaron and she doesn’t want anyone to forget he was here.
Christie was a single mom when Aaron was born and from the beginning, she sensed he was a very special child. “He was incredibly bright,” she says. “He was reading at a third-grade level in Kindergarten, loved books, computers and The Power Rangers.” Aaron was a quiet child and a gifted artist. He wanted to live in a big city and do voice-overs for animated movies. “He was also a foodie and his favorite shows were on the Food Network, along with Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. He was very happy as a baby and as he grew, very loving.”
But Aaron’s life was cut short. He passed away April 2, 2014, just one semester short of a degree in Liberal Arts. Aaron had been diagnosed with familial adenomatous polyposis when he was just 10 years old and had part of his colon removed by age 12.
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is an inherited condition in which numerous adenomatous polyps form mainly in the epithelium of the large intestine, a condition he inherited from his biological father, a condition that ultimately resulted in his early death.
But it is his life that Kirchenbauer would like everyone to remember and that is why “Pay It Forward for Aaron” was created. This year on his birthday, she and a group of her closest friends and family gathered to perform random acts of kindness at all of Aaron’s favorite places, Chilis, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen and Hometown Cinema.
She, and her group of 11 set out on April 29 this year, the Saturday before his birthday, armed with $1,400 in cash and gift cards that they had collected in about a month’s time and set out to bless some people, complete strangers by paying for their meals or their movie tickets.
“I met the most amazing people,” she said. There were the young people, some of whom reminded her of her son and when she paid for their tickets, they reciprocated with hugs. There was an elderly man in Mabank Café that remembered her son as the boy who used to draw Superman, when he and her grandmother had coffee. There was a couple with a young son she was drawn to who it turns out, was a cancer survivor.
Kirchenbauer handed out pictures of her son, along with a little note explaining the reason for the blessing in memory of Aaron. One of her friends dressed as a blue Power Ranger for the event and one as a Harry Potter character to celebrate some of the characters Aaron loved.
She would like to see this grow, to be able to sponsor scholarships for deserving students, since Aaron was so close to getting his first degree when he died.
Kirchenbauer admits that it has taken her some time to get to this point, and that she was understandable devastated and angry when he died. She explains that it was those who loved her, in particular, her husband, Troy who got her through. “He was just so loving. He would tell me, ‘it’s ok to stay in bed today, but tomorrow we’re going to do something.’ He let me grieve and be angry and he loved me through it.”
She also feels she called to reach out to other mothers who have lost children. “I reached out to a local mom whose child had died in an accident. I told her I wasn’t stalking her, I just wanted to help. We are friends now.”
Kirchenbauer has three other children, the youngest a 14-year-old boy who she describes as the polar opposite of Aaron, an outdoorsy type with a big personality. “The only reason I’m standing,” she says, “is the grace of God, my husband and my youngest son who needs me.”
Her husband also helped her create a garden, enclosed by a white picket fence with plants and benches. It is a sanctuary where she can go and feel close to Aaron. One year on his birthday, she explains, everyone who showed up created a stepping stone and we put them all along the outside of the garden.
She speaks of Aaron in the present tense because that’s how she still sees him. When asked what he may say to her today, she tears up. “I just hope he’d say he loves me.”
It is her hope that “Pay if Forward for Aaron,” continues to grow. It is something that Aaron would have liked. Donations are collected from friends and family member and put in an account in First State Bank in Mabank.
“A mother’s worst fear when they lose a child is people forgetting about them, like they never existed. I’m still his mother and he’s still my son. This is my way to keep him alive in a way, to keep him close.”
For more information, email Christie