Being a Mom Act I (Act II was Mother’s Day)

I know this seems backwards and it’s true, it is.  Act II was written and posted first and there is a huge reason for that.  My son Anthony, writing his last finals on May 13, 2010, is my second child.  For me, Mother’s Day is about the living.  It is how I have been able to deal with not having both my sons with me.  Just like the Christmas picture that never was, if I dwell on what I have lost then there is no joy in the day.

Hugging Mother’s Day is the anniversary of my son Tommy’s passing.  May 14th 1988.  Adding insult to considerable injury, May 14, 1989 (his first anniversary) was on Mother’s Day.  See what I mean…can’t dwell…

On July 2, 1984 our first son was born by c-section.  Ouch.  After only a few hours his color did not improve to a vibrant pink and was whisked off to Children’s Hospital in Buffalo after a quick baptismal ceremony held in recovery.

He was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries ( and a VSD.  VERY long story short, we took him to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia for a successful surgery.

Just a few months after visiting Philadelphia for the year post operative exam (where he looked great) he began having regular seizures.  He didn’t physically develop at age level and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.  We never went more than two months without an in-patient stay at Children’s.  This abnormal experience became part of our normal life. 

 What I describe here is a very sickly child.  He was anything but!  He had an outgoing personality and quick smile.  He had a sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye.  He once negotiated with Santa when he was given a toy at the Christmas party at his school, Niagara Children’s ETC.  It was a yellow plastic school bus.  He told Santa he already had a bus, he wanted a book.

In January 1988 he had a seizure and was in a coma for 3 ½ months. The phone call just before dawn on May 14th is like a distant dream to me today and the years of grief replaced by a life of gratefulness.  I survived what I hope is the very worst period of my life. 

Funny thing is, I am a very happy person and I really appreciate my life.  My husband and I beat the odds and are going to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary this fall.  He is a past president of the board of directors of Niagara Cerebral Palsy and is also an active member of the Cerebral Palsy of New York State board.  Our second son, Anthony, is a really nice kid.  He works hard and seems to love life like his two parents.  Best of all, he is sensitive to folks with disabilities and carries the essence of his brother in his perfectly healthy heart.

Life is good!


Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

Being a Mom Act II (Act I on Friday)

If you are looking for some kind of budget coach babble or college athletics insight, today’s blog is not for you.  Stop reading and please check back next week when I will resume my inside view of college athletic business.  However, if you would like to indulge me, I will give you a little glimpse into my life and what makes me tick. 

I am the mother of two sons.  The first was born in 1984 and passed away on May 14, 1988.  Tommy is the first “Act” I describe in the title.  The second “Act” began when my second son was born in 1990.  Two and one half excruciatingly long years after the death of his brother.  I have been a mother in two acts with a 2 ½ year intermission.

In 1990 when Anthony was born I was still in the middle of a long grieving process.  I used to watch him sleep and wait for him to have a seizure like his brother.  That never happened.  I cried for years at Christmas when we took a family picture for our annual Christmas card knowing that all four of us would never be in one picture together. 

What I did make peace with eventually was that I am the luckiest person on earth to be chosen to raise two extraordinary children.  When I was pregnant with Anthony I prayed for ordinary.  All the right parts in all the right places…Please God let him be healthy…and he was. 

We watched his brother struggle with health issues his entire short life.  Anthony almost sensed this even as a young child and has displayed real courage and character whenever he has had challenges.  When he was cut from the swim team his freshman year in high school after being an all-star in elementary school he visited the coach the day the list was posted.  He asked the coach what he could do to make the team next year.  About a week later he set out on a course to lose 10 pounds and start working out.  He ended up losing 35 pounds, grew two inches and swam regularly with his club.  He made the team the next year and was selected a captain his senior year. 

When he searched for a college he did it without the intention to swim.  I am proud to say he earned Presidential scholarships at three schools and attends Fairfield University on a full academic scholarship.  The greatest surprise is that he decided to walk-on to the team and continues to improve his times. 

The hardest thing for me has been letting him do what he needs to do.  Having one child die can cause difficulty when raising another.  It can be tempting to put him in a bubble and protect him in case something bad is going to happen.  It is hard to see him fall and fail but I know if he is going to learn how to succeed and thrive he needs to skin his knees and bruise his ego.

I am also lucky that my own incredible mother is still with me.  I spent the day with her today and know that each Mother’s Day is special and unique. 

Motherhood has also taught me I am much stronger than I ever imagined I could be.  I take no credit for surviving the death of a child but I will accept some for picking myself up and trying again, just like my extraordinary second “Act” son Anthony who has made his mother proud at every turn.

Life is good!


Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta