January 26, 2011

ESPN: Beitzel thankful for family ties

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Editor's note: The following story can be read in its entirety on ESPN.com.


By DANA O'NEIL
ESPN.com

Her nerves frayed and her stomach flip-flopping, Michellene Lenz approached the front door to Joan Louth's home on Christmas morning.

For years, Lenz had been too embarrassed and ashamed to knock. The house had been her son's refuge, a shelter from a raging storm of a life he didn't create.

And Louth? She'd been the mother Lenz couldn't be to Devon Beitzel.

It was Louth who made Beitzel his breakfast and served him dinner; she checked his homework and doled out the discipline; she listened to his worries and celebrated his accomplishments.

For all of that, Lenz was so grateful.

But she also knew it was because of her own failings that her son needed a place to retreat in the first place.

"It's hard to pick up your face sometimes," Lenz said, pausing and reaching for the right words. "It takes a lot of healing. But this Christmas, oh my gosh, it was phenomenal. I felt so welcome, such a part of everything, and I realized, my gosh, that's his family. They're going to be his family forever. I want to be a part of it, and now I can. I don't have to be embarrassed. My son loves me."

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To continue reading, head over to ESPN.com.