LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Today, on StoryCorp, a mother and son in Chicago. Chicago has been plagued by gun violence. One weekend last month, nearly a dozen people were shot and killed. Ondelee Perteet and his mom, Detreena, sat down to discuss the day four years ago when a gun changed his life. He was 14 years old and was shot in the face.
ONDELEE PERTEET: Me and my friend went over to a party. A lot of people, they started throwing gang signs. And, you know, I got into an argument with somebody in the party, and that's when I got shot. How did you feel when you saw me for the first time after the shooting?
DETREENA PERTEET: I got to the hospital, and the doctor came back, and he said, we're sorry, but he's never going to move his arms and legs again. It just tore me apart.
ONDELEE PERTEET: But you moved into the hospital with me, wouldn't let me stop. You just were a drill sergeant.
DETREENA PERTEET: Seeing you drive a wheelchair with your mouth, and having to change diapers off my 14-year-old was difficult for me.
ONDELEE PERTEET: I know it's hard for you to see your son like this, but I felt blessed to have my mama do this for me.
DETREENA PERTEET: Was there a moment when you wanted to give up?
ONDELEE PERTEET: Yeah. At first I didn't see no progress. But now, I'm able to move my arms, my legs, it makes me feel good because, you know, I know that I worked hard.
DETREENA PERTEET: Sometimes I'm afraid that it might happen again. You don't hang out in the streets anymore, but I'm still always afraid whenever you're outside. I worry.
ONDELEE PERTEET: I'm not really too scared that it will happen again because it gave me a second chance to make better decisions. You know, before I got shot, we wasn't really - didn't express our feelings to each other that much. We didn't talk about everything like we do now, so it brought us closer.
DETREENA PERTEET: It's been a tremendous ride, and I'm glad we survived it. And I just want to say I love you, kid, with all my heart.
WERTHEIMER: Ondelee Perteet and his mother Detreena at StoryCorp in Chicago. Ondelee graduated from high school in June and plans to start college over the winter. This is and all StoryCorp interviews will be archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress.
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