Living for September

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June Norris' eyes still fill with tears when she talks about what happened to her granddaughter, September Watson, almost 10 years ago.

Born on Christmas Day in 1998, September was a healthy and happy baby. That changed four weeks later, when she was violently shaken by her then 17-year-old father, Jerry Lee Hood.

His actions resulted in brain damage so severe that September is unable to walk, talk, see or do anything for herself.

"They told us at the hospital to start planning her funeral," June recalls. "But I wasn't going to accept that."

Since that day, she has devoted her life to caring for her granddaughter.

September needs constant attention. Her bed, filled with stuffed animals, is set up an arm's length away from where June sleeps.

"Every time she makes a noise, I'm up," June says. "I probably only get a few hours of sleep a night, because I'm afraid she's gonna quit breathing on me."

At almost 70 pounds, September is getting more difficult to lift. The narrow hallway in their home does not accommodate her wheelchair, so she must be carried from room to room. June accepts that dealing with her own health problems, including back pain, must be put on hold because she cannot afford health insurance.

"My pain is nothing compared to what September has to go through," she says. "I just deal with it."

Questions still linger in June's mind about what happened.

"I just want to know why," she said. "How in the world could someone do this to a 4-week-old baby, I will never know."

Mr. Hood was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but June feels that it's not enough.

"September got life," she says.

June says her daughter was not able to properly care for the child.

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, between 1,200 and 1,400 babies are injured or die every year from the effects of being violently shaken. Most often it occurs when adults are frustrated or angry and lose control.

June believes that September survived in order to educate people about the consequences of shaking a child.

"I think when people meet September or hear her story, they'll hug their kids a little tighter and think twice about doing anything that could possibly hurt them," she said.

Although emotional, physical and financial burdens have become the norm in June's life, September is her motivation to keep going.

"September is my life," she says. "There are some days that I feel guilty, because I want a life, too, but I wouldn't trade her for a million bucks."


Online Extra

View Jackie Ricciardi's slideshow on September Watson.

HOW TO HELP

DONATIONS: An account for September Watson is set up at Wachovia Bank, 3115 Peach Orchard Road, Augusta, GA 30906. You may also contact June Norris at dorisjune44@yahoo.com or (706) 414-7363.

EDUCATION: For more information about Shaken Baby Syndrome, visit The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome at www.dontshake.org.

Comments (14) Add comment
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enana03
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enana03 10/13/08 - 07:28 am
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This grandmother will get her

This grandmother will get her star in heaven for her loving care of September here on earth. What a selfless act of love.

ljp
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ljp 10/13/08 - 07:41 am
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Someone needs to send this to

Someone needs to send this to the "Extreme Home Makeover", this is one angel who deserves a break and a blessing.

RhondaAllDay365
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RhondaAllDay365 10/13/08 - 07:54 am
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If everyone in this world had

If everyone in this world had this much love in their hearts for each other , "THIS WORLD WOULD BE A W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

voluptuously_auburn1
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voluptuously_auburn1 10/13/08 - 07:54 am
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I was thinking the EXACT same

I was thinking the EXACT same thing!!!!

getalife
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getalife 10/13/08 - 08:16 am
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God bless this grandmother

God bless this grandmother and her granddaughter.

triscuit
3266
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triscuit 10/13/08 - 09:54 am
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Where is the mother?

Where is the mother?

justtired
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justtired 10/13/08 - 10:38 am
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I agree with the question

I agree with the question triscuit asked. There is no doubt that this selfless grandmother deserves our praise, our support and anything else that we can offer. But the daughter... I can imagine that's another talking point altogether: "Not able to properly care for the child". Bet that's an interesting story.

savoy_savoy
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savoy_savoy 10/13/08 - 12:00 pm
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I am happy that this little

I am happy that this little girl has a grandmother who is taking excellent care of her...and I pray that they both will continue to be blessed. I wish there was more I could do for them...if I hit the lottery this week, I'll definately look them up! Even if I could lend a helping hand in some other way...I would.

wolves
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wolves 10/13/08 - 12:49 pm
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To those wanting to know

To those wanting to know where September's Mom is... She has 2 other kids and works full time. She feels bad that She was not home in time to prevent this from happening. She was gone with Her dad To the store and did not want to take the baby out in the cold. She comes to see September as much as She can. It breaks Her heart to see September hurt and depressed that September can not do things that other kids Her age can. I am September's Aunt and Have known the family for 20+ years and Know that She LOVES Her Lil Girl.

carolinagirl1970
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carolinagirl1970 10/13/08 - 01:59 pm
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This is so sad and the video

This is so sad and the video was to. May God be with this young girl and her family.

Farful
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Farful 10/13/08 - 02:46 pm
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god bless

god bless

Angela Quick
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Angela Quick 10/13/08 - 06:57 pm
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I have known September since

I have known September since the day she was born. When she was born I was there to hold her after being a couple of days old. She was a normal child until her father took that away from her. And I think it is great that Ms. June step in and fought to keep Little Ms. September alive and well. Ms. June does wonderful with September. And you are right Wolves her mother loves September and I know she she did the right thing to let her mother take care of September, due to she knowing better that her mother would be able to care for her better then her. I know the whole family and they are great people that love Septmber a GREAT DEAL!!! Just remember Ms. June you are doing a great job and you will be blessed when the time comes..Keep up the great work. I have donated money to the fund and for the people of Augusta and the surrounding counties please be kind and give Ms. June some support to help her and September out.

stevie ray
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stevie ray 10/13/08 - 07:34 pm
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I will have these two in my

I will have these two in my prayers. Such love...wow.

Stoone08
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Stoone08 10/15/08 - 03:34 pm
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Great job, Jackie. This is

Great job, Jackie. This is the kind of story that enrages you, but, at the same time, gives a flicker of hope. If September can withstand that, anything's possible.

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