I have three children:
My first, TJ, now 37, is married to a great woman, Kelly, and they have a beautiful, beautiful 18 month old son, Nathan. At the time of TJ's birth, I had just turned 20, was single, and had no support or help from his dad. With the support of my parents, I was able to return to work and support TJ on my own. Unfortuntely, TJ's dad was never in his life but I am proud of the man he is today.
My second, Caitlin, is 14, and thrives on drama. I had Cat when I was 43, after I was told I would never be able to have any more children due to the heavy doses of chemo that I was given in 1991 - more on that journey later. Cat has a gift - a voice - and I am totally proud of her as well. Lately, she is beccoming more and more stressed, crying, worrying about anything and everything. Yesterday, she came home, crying like crazy, telling me she didn't make the cheerleading team. For the past few weeks, she's worked her tail off, practicing every day, determined to get on the team. I tried talking to her, explaining that this wasn't her time and that it wasn't meant to be. There's always next year, I said. I then started thinking about being in her place, a 14 year old girl who was devastated about not making the team, and realized no matter what anyone said, I would still feel like crap. It will take another day or two for her to get over it.
My third child, is older than Cat by 10 months. I always joke that they're Irish twins. Sherry is 15, and the most helpful and sweetest young lady anyone would ever want to meet. Sherry is older than Cat, but my third child. I am only speaking about the order in which my children arrived. Sherry is my husband's sister's daughter. I started fighting for custody of Sherry before she was born. My husband and I realized that his sister and her boyfriend would never be able to take care of her and got involved with social services while his sister was still pregnant. To make a long story short, the court system did all that they could to give Sherry's parents the benefit of the doubt by sending them to parenting classes, but Sherry stayed in foster care for the first 17 months of her life. At the age of 17 months, she flew to NJ, and she's been with us ever since. Sherry has some learning problems, but she works really hard in school and gets good marks. She's so sweet that, in school, her teachers bring new students over to her who are also disabled because they know that Sherry will take care of them.
My husband, Al. Thank God for him. This man has been through the ringer with me. The other day I said to him, Al, when we got married, did you ever think that you would be running back and forth to the doctors with me? It just doesn't seem fair. He said, well, Muriel, nobody has a crystal ball. I said, well, maybe you should have seen a fortune teller before we married!
I met Al when I turned 30. Three years later, we married. Al has two other daughters and two granddaughters. The man is surrounded by girls! I joke that even our cat is female. When I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer in 1991, he was with me every step of the way - all chemo treatments, doctor's appointments, hospital stays. There was also a time during that treatment, that he needed to come home at lunch to inject me with a growth factor to keep my blood cell count up. That lasted two weeks and at the end of that period, I was ready to scream. And here we are today. Al is a teacher who will be retiring at the end of this month. After 40 years of teaching music to high school and elementary school kids, it's about time.