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Timmy's Song

Deacon Keith A Fournier
(c) Third Millennium, LLC

It was a steamy day in the Nations Capitol. I was rushing to one final meeting in the Dirksen Building after attending Mass at noon. The morning had been packed and I was tired. This was a "stop by" visit, graciously accommodated at my request, in order to allow me to introduce a colleague of mine to one of the great Christian public servants of our age, the Honorable Rick Santorum.

I have long admired Senator Santorum as one of the clear and consistent Catholic voices in public life and service. I have had the privilege of working with him on the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the dignity of every human life at every age and stage. My younger colleague, an evangelical Christian with a desire for public service, was eager to meet one of his heroes, a man who has informed his public service by his faith.

This was the last stop in what had been a whirlwind trip to the Capitol. Frankly, I was glad the official itinerary would soon be over and I was actually looking forward to traveling home. As my hair has grayed, I have lost a bit of the "spring" in the step and this kind of "stop by" does not really excite me.

God, as is often the case in our lives, had other plans.

When we entered the Senator's office it was frenzied, filled with the kind of activity that regularly characterizes Capitol Hill offices. People were milling about and waiting to see the Senator for various reasons. He was delayed, still on the floor in a vote and everything was being managed well by his competent staff.

However, in the right hand side of the room, I noticed a slight little boy, with dark glasses and an infectious smile. More than simply noticing, I heard him. He was singing with a voice that instantly melted my heart and drew every eye toward he and his proud family. His name was Timmy.

Timmy Kelly was there, like my colleague, to meet the Senator. He was with his two wonderful parents who so clearly love their son. I overheard Timmy say to his Dad "Dad, I am so excited to meet the Senator". It was expressed with the purity and innocence of childhood. The excited tone was deeply refreshing in a town so often jaded with cynicism.

I took a seat in the far corner of the room and my younger colleague sat closer to Timmy. I quickly saw that he knew the words of the song that Timmy was singing. It was a popular song, apparently written and performed by a contemporary performer named Avril Lavigne.

Timmy's Dad, (also named Timmy) brought his young son over to my colleague. "Timmy" he said "This man knows that song." Timmy was excited! The interchange that followed was wonderful. Timmy asked "Do you know who she was writing about?" "A friend in High School who was made fun of by others?" my colleague responded. "No, she was really writing about herself" said Timmy, revealing wisdom way beyond his ten years, "she was the one they made fun of."

Right at this point, a bizarre thing happened in the hectic pace in the Senators office. A group of people, including several young people, entered the room with badges on indicating they were with the A.C.L.U.. Apparently, they were at a convention in the Capitol that week.

After the flow was interrupted by their large presence (which Timmy could not see because he is blind) he simply continued singing another song. People were literally amazed at the beauty, the timber and the pitch of his voice. They were impressed with even more with the purity of his huge heart. Timmy is not only blind but has cerebral palsy. When he sings, his entire little body moves to the tempo of the beautiful melody. I must admit, and I again am showing my age, his movements reminded me of a young Joe Cocker.

The group of A.C.L.U. visitors had a look of determination on their faces. I couldn't help but think they were not all that pleased with the Senators positions on some of the vital issues of our age. You could tell they were there to try to wield some kind of, what they perceived as, "power." The Senator is, after all, a champion of life, courageously defending the dignity of every human life, including children in the first home of their mothers womb.

The organization has embraced a notion of freedom as a raw power over others, at least with its unqualified support of abortion on demand. But the young people accompanying the leaders on the visit, also wearing the badges, were taken with Timmy's song. So were people now stopping in the hallway to listen. Because of their sheer number, there was no more standing room in the main waiting room, so the A.C.L.U. delegation was led to an adjoining room to await the Senators arrival. They stayed behind a closed door.

Unfortunately, they also missed what would soon transpire.

Timmy just kept singing his songs of joy. The waiting room was filled with life. The scene was becoming somewhat surreal - and would become even more so over the next ten minutes. The Senator then entered, hurriedly explaining that he regretted his lateness and unfortunately only had a moment because he could not miss a crucial vote. Just at that moment, Timmy's Dad brought him over to the Senator. Timmy hugged the Senators leg. The little boy was elated. The Senator was deeply moved.

"I am so honored to meet you sir" he giggled "can I sing for you?" The good Senator, like every human being within earshot, was a captive audience, enamored with the beauty of Timmy, amazed at his voice, and struck to the heart with his simple joy and gratitude of life. "Dad, what should I sing?" said the loyal son to his best friend and other hero, his father. "Sing God Bless America for the Senator Timmy" directed his elated Dad.

At that moment, from the soul of this tiny frame, arose a voice that could lead a nation to follow its highest angels and understand its noblest ideals. Timmy Kelly belted out the most beautiful rendition of that cherished song that I have ever heard. There no dry eyes in the place. Every one smiled, not just facial smiles, but the kind of deep body smiles that emanate from that place within that we all know is reserved for the best of happy experiences. By now, the hallway outside the office was full and the world of "hurry up" seemed to stop...for Timmy's song.

The Senator was deeply moved. Saddened that he had to leave - and that he could not even find a photographer - he apologized to Timmy. He did not need to. This ten year old boy had a wisdom that few of us ever know. He lived in the present moment. "Thank you Senator for meeting me" he said as he hugged him again.

My colleague and I shook the Senators hand as he left and I introduced them. However, our eye contact said it all. Senator Santorum knew and we knew that we all met someone more "powerful" than any elected official that day. We met Timmy Kelly. We had heard the truth of heaven in the timber of a small boy who sang with the kind of unreserved gratitude that few of us have experienced.

We all sing a song with our lives. Sometimes the melody is cacophonous, sometimes, melancholy and then, sometimes, on rare occasions, filled with the awe and gratitude that comes when we begin to understand the things that really matter most. Timmy sang a song of surrendered love and he bore the fruit of true and authentic joy.

The Catholic heart in me was reminded of another song, sung two millennia before, by a teenage Virgin who was greeted with some stirring news by an angel. She also sang the song of surrendered love, the "Magnificat", and all of human history was changed by her surrender to Gods love. Her "Yes" brought heaven to earth and the Savior of all men and women was born.

On this day, the whole roomful of people who had assembled in this center of political activity was moved to silence by Timmy's song. The whole office, the whole world of politics stopped, at least for that moment of encounter with pure goodness.

"A little child shall lead them" wrote the great Hebrew prophet. That day a little child, Timmy Kelly, also revealed the love that was born in Bethlehem's cave two thousand years ago. Love is still incarnated in the lives of those we encounter if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

All of the conversations, as important as they seemed to be that day to everyone waiting in that office, paled in comparison to what Timmy's song revealed to almost all of us. His song consisted of more than the words that came from his small frame. His song was revealed in the witness of the beauty of his life, indeed every life, and the unrestrained joy that was his because he saw life for what it is - a pure gift. The lasting fruit from his lifesong was revealed as well in the eyes of his parents, now filled with tears of loving pride. They so clearly cherished their boy and recognized the gift he was for all of us on this day.

A week has passed since I heard Timmy's song. I have had the occasion to find out more about the honor we had that day of meeting this little boy. It still takes a child to reveal the truth and set us free.

I close by sharing with my readers a portion of one of the many wonderful testimonies to Timmy's song that I have found on the world wide web. It can be found on the "Fathers Network" and it is written by Timmy's father. It tells the story of Timmy's birth and their love for life and for the gift of their son.


"Being born premature brings with it a whole set of complications as we were soon to find out. Timmy was placed on a warmer, not even an incubator because he was too small. Naturally he was intubated. Seeing this tube in my tiny little son almost broke my heart. Intellectually I realized this was needed for his survival, but emotionally it was terrifying. Timmy was so small we weren't even able to hold him for several weeks; we were able to touch his tiny hands -- what a joy that was. The social worker told us that kids that have parental involvement tend to put on 46% more weight. Luckily I worked close enough to the hospital so I could visit him three times a day. My wife and I made up tapes of us singing to him. God bless that little guy for having to listen to my voice. He loved the tapes and responded well. I even wrote Timmy a song .

The first time he was fed was through a tube which was placed through his nose into his stomach. The nurse said it was obscene when he first received .05 something of milk. It was such a tiny amount, but I was proud as can be holding the tube as the milk entered his stomach and slowly drained from the tube. His first operation was a patent-ductis to correct a valve outside his heart that normally closes on birth. Obviously his did not close. Prior to the surgery we spent some time with Timmy and it dawned on me that after only 10 days I may be saying good-bye for the last time to my son. I was extremely frightened and felt totally hopeless. One of my brothers came to the hospital to be with Eileen and me, which, looking back now was a tremendous source of support from which I drew strength and courage.

Timmy did well with the surgery and by now we realized we had a fighter on our hands. At some point -- I'm not really clear when -- I truly believe that Eileen and I reached out and touched Timmy's soul. Likewise he touched our soul and somewhere during that time we shared our love, tenderness, strength, courage, and weaknesses, and we invited Timmy to remain with us in this life. He chose life and vowed to fight from that point on. Without his willing-ness to fight for life the story would end here. After surgery Timmy once again extubated himself by positioning his head to the side and leaning the tube against the bed and pressing on it. He would exhaust himself during this process but would eventually loosen the tube and simply reach up and pull it out. What an awesome experience watching this little baby weighing less than two pounds being able to extubate himself.

The story goes on and on and includes four operations on each eye to stop his ROP (reintopathy of prematurity). Unfortunately these were unsuccessful and Timmy is blind. He also has mild cerebral palsy. My point in writing to you is to very briefly share some of our story and send the message of hope to others out there who are struggling. Keep up the good fight and hang in there; you are not alone and your child needs you to continue the fight. We don't sleep well at home, Timmy is difficult to handle, but thank God we have a beautiful little boy who just turned two. His development is slow but he continues to be a fighter. I once told my wife Eileen that during our time of suffering, as difficult and challenging as it was, eventually we would also experience the true joy of having our son. We have!


This is a song I wrote for Timmy --

He's my buddy, he's my pal,
He's my little Timmy Kelly and I love him, yes I do, yes I do!

And he's doin' oh so well, and he's doin' oh so fine,
and I love him, yes I do, yes I do!

He's my buddy, he's my pal, he's my little Timmy Kelly,
and I love him, yes I do, yes I do!

And we finally got him home to squirt him with the hose and
have the doggy chase him round the yard.

He's my buddy, he's my pal, he's my little Timmy Kelly,
and I love him, yes I do, yes I do!

He's a little Irish boy, he's his daddy's pride and joy,
and I love him, yes I do, yes I do!

Cause he's my buddy, he's my pal, he's my little Timmy Kelly,
and I love him, yes I do, yes I do!

Timothy J. Kelly
Philadelphia, PA


People like Timmy Kelly are gifts to a world that needs to hear his song and learn to sing again. I am so grateful to have encountered this little boy. Timmy keeps singing because his song echoes through the ages and enters into the eternal.

That day, the living, loving God visited the Senators office, for those who had eyes to see and hearts to hear. He came in the person of Timmy Kelly. Thank God Timmys parents chose life. Because they did, we are all enriched.

Ironically, the only ones who did not see Timmy were the ones behind the closed door, probably thinking they were going to wield their "power" that day. How I wish they would sing along!

I had the privilege of seeing a power far greater, the true power of poured out love. The power of Timmy's song.


Deacon Keith Fournier, the President of "Your Catholic Voice Foundation", is a deacon of the Church, a constitutional lawyer and the editor in chief of Catholic Online.

Your Catholic Voice is a movement to promote faithful citizenship based on the fundamental truths of the Catholic Church relating to Life, Family, Freedom and Solidarity. For information go to Your Catholic Voice


Your Catholic Voice Foundation VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - President, 757 546-9580




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