The West

Almost nine months after the tragic accident that claimed his father's life, eight-year-old Patrick Majewski has made a remarkable physical and emotional recovery that few adults could manage.

Mature beyond his years, Patrick is paralysed from the chest down.

Otherwise, he shows no outward sign of his crippling injuries from falling 19m down a rocky gorge in Karijini National Park in October.

His 31-year-old father Chris, the principal of Leinster Primary School, died in a desperate bid to save Patrick, who was left with extensive brain and back injuries and needed 10 weeks in Princess Margaret Hospital.

When Patrick returned home, his speech was slow and the movement in his left arm was weak.

But now his voice is perfect and loud as he scolds younger siblings Izabel, six, and Cameron, four, for making too much noise and happily acts as dealer when his family plays card games.

He has never complained about being in a wheelchair and is more worried about how his mother is coping.

"Patrick was always a caring old soul but after the accident he changed in a really amazing way," Mrs Majewski said at the family home in Bunbury. "He has gone from quiet and shy to outgoing and flamboyant.

"I don't know whether it is the result of the brain injury or his way of dealing with what's happened, but he's really come out of his shell.

"He's become very protective of us and taken on some of Chris' role.

"On Mother's Day, he asked me about Father's Day because he was already thinking ahead to that time this year when it will be tough for us."

Mrs Majewski said she struggled to remember life before the accident and took one day at a time.

When she had a bad day, she only had to look at Patrick, who is in Year 3 at a regular school and has learnt to shower himself and get in and out of the car.

As well as having regular rehabilitation therapy at PMH, he is learning to play the guitar and takes part in wheelchair sports.

The challenge of getting Patrick to school and his activities was made a little easier this week when the WA Civilian Widows Trust provided $25,000 through the Apex Foundation towards the cost of a new station wagon to accommodate his wheelchair.

Bunbury-Koombana Apex Club applied for the grant and Bunbury Honda provided the car at a reduced price.

Mrs Majewski said her children had accepted their father's death but they still had times when they sat and cried together.

This weekend they are visiting Leinster as a family for the first time since the accident, which Mrs Majewski said would be bittersweet as they caught up with old friends but were reminded of their life in the town before her husband was killed.

"Our life is different now and not what we imagined but it's our 'new normal' and what Chris would have wanted," she said.

The West Australian

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