TULLAHOMA, Tenn. (WTVF) — A family has faced extraordinary pain, yet their motivation stays strong. Their story's about the importance of having a support system in all the trials life brings you.
"Fishin'! We stay fishin'," smiled Tabitha London, fishing pole in hand. "This is what we do. We fish."
In some families, you start fishing young. Tabitha wouldn't have it any other way.
"It doesn't matter if I catch anything or not, I just like to come out here and throw my pole," she smiled.
Tabitha will tell you, she's the best at this in the family.
"So she say!" laughed her daughter Jamaya. "She is, though. She loves to fish."
Jamaya loves these days by the water with her family, especially after the last few years dealt them one painful event after another. There used to be more members of the family out fishing together like Jamaya's little brother, James.
"James suffered a severe asthma attack," said Tabitha. "This time there was nothing I could do. I felt like that was the first thing in life that I failed at because I could not fix it."
"He just fell out, right at my feet," said Jamaya. "My momma, she was running around saying, 'call the ambulance, call the ambulance.' Everything pretty much changed after that."
Then, Jamaya was diagnosed with a condition where pressure in the skull increases. Complications in surgery interrupted her freshman and sophomore years at Tullahoma High when she was partially paralyzed. Jamaya held on to her smile because of the words of her mom.
"She kept giving me these pep talks, 'when you learn how to walk again, you're gonna have the baddest walk!'" laughed Jamaya.
"If you have any doubt, you will not walk again," said Tabitha. "You have to believe God will fix you. She said, 'I believe.' She walked."
By then, Jamaya was desperately behind at school. Older brother Trevor was her motivator. In more pain for this family, Trevor also died young.
Jamaya welcomed her son Cayson, her whole world. With responsibilities of being a mom and being so far behind, finishing high school seemed impossible.
"There ain't no need for me to go to school," Tabitha remembered Jamaya saying. "I said, 'nuh uh. Yes, there is. You got a baby. You're going to have to provide for him. You have to have your high school diploma."
Jamaya enrolled in Tullahoma City Schools' credit recovery program. Would she be able to get it all done in time for graduation night?
Jamaya's family cheered as she walked across the stage in her school's Class of 2022 graduation ceremony.
Jamaya is looking to become a sports physical therapist. Getting to this day, she credits teacher Julee Kemp and counselor Susie Young who believed in her, the motivation from doing this for her son, the memories of two brothers she lost, and of course, the support of the person best at fishing in the family.
"I stuck to what my momma kept telling me," said Jamaya. "Have faith. Have faith."
"When you got doctors who say, 'you may not walk again', not only do you get up and walk, you're able to walk with your class," said Tabitha. "She has definitely got something to be proud of tonight."