On March 8, 1989 my life changed drastically. The next day I was scheduled to have a bunion removed from my right foot. About 11 pm I received a call that my daughter [my mom] had been involved in an a driver only accident and hit a telephone pole, went through her soft top convertible and landed 30 ft from the car. She was transferred to Abington Hospital in a life threatening coma. At the time this happened she was married with a 4 month old infant [me].
As a foreword I was newly widowed in 1986. I had two daughters who had migrated to North Carolina for jobs and a son who remained in the area. My immediate family consisted of my mother, my sister and my four children. My husband had died of prostate cancer in 1986 and my mother and sister had been diagnosed with leukemia related cancers. My father passed away in 1972 from heart disease. My daughter who had the accident was married with a four month infant boy.
At the time I was employed at a major teaching hospital as a House Staff Coordinator.
It was touch and go for my daughter for about two weeks. She had sustained a severe brain injury. Finally, after she stabilized, but not awake, the neurologist attending her case, suggested I return to work because there was nothing I could do. I took his advice finally, but I was criticized by some family and friends. It proved to be good advice as I had a really paper intensive job and it took my mind off the immediate situation
She remained in a coma for about 2-½ months and was transferred to a rehab hospital in suburban Philadelphia where she finally woke up. She had to be retaught how to do most things. She could not walk and would not walk again on her own.
I was devastated and seriously did not know how I would handle all the issues that were before me. A sick mother and my only sister: both suffering from cancer. As my mother would say, I shouldered on (an African American saying that indicated you had a lot of problems and challenges). I would continue working and visiting my daughter at least 3 times a week after work; nearly an hour from work.
In August 1989 I traveled with my girlfriends to our annual trek to Virginia Beach for three days. While there I received a phone call that my son-in-law had died. [my mother’s husband, not my father]. He had been newly diagnosed with cancer within the last two weeks and just died. I said to myself can this be any worse and how can I possibly get through this. With this new crisis I became solely responsible for my grandson [me] and daughter [my mom]. Needless to say I was in a deep funk. Not only was I solely responsible, I was out of the child-rearing business with no relatives or friends to help me with any of this.
I finally sent Jeremy to live with paternal grandparents for 1-½ years knowing I would have to take him in the near future, which I eventually did. Well Jeremy thrived big-time and the little fellow walked and talked at 8 months and everyone was amazed. This was my first inclination he deserved something different from me as far as education was concerned.
After remaining in the rehab hospital for a year, my daughter was transferred to Beechwood Neurology Rehabilitation, a division of Woods School in Langhorne, PA where she currently resides. About 1-½ years later I brought Jeremy to live with me and I enrolled him in Abington Friends Preschool. Meanwhile my mother and sister where being treated for Leukemia; my mother at Temple Hospital where I was employed and my sister at Sloan Kettering in New York. My mother sustained her illness much better than my sister. My sister was hospitalized often and I would travel to New York City often as she was the only sibling I had. During this entire period I began to feel only the grace of God got me through this as well as friends I made at Abington Friends School. When it was time for me to enroll Jeremy in school I considered sending Jeremy to Hershey School. He was tested and accepted. Then my family had an uproar. They said I shouldn’t do this. We should handle it as a family. My oldest daughter said she would raise Jeremy. I really pondered what to do. I remembered before my interview at Hershey there was a mother and daughter with their little boy and in overhearing their conversation it didn’t seem that they were considerate of the little boy as he could overhear their conversation. Needless to say, in making this decision I wondered if I would have a vested interest with Jeremy 60 miles away. I also wondered about my parenting skills as I was not the best disciplinarian. I had four children by age 22 and also had to maintain a full time job. The counselor that accepted Jeremy was not happy with me when I declined to send him to Hershey School.
Again, I was praying for the Lord to get me through this awful time in my life. A counselor at AFS suggested I send Jeremy there full time and that was what I did. The school was less than a ¼ mile from my house. I said to my self “how in the hell am I going to afford it”. Again with the grace of God, his mother’s social security for dependents, as well as my funds, Jeremy was able to complete his secondary education at AFS which turned out to be a wonderful decision. Jeremy was not your normal bright studious child. He participated in everything. Sports as well as the clarinet. He was completely different from my other children. He never once required assistance with his homework and was a completely dedicated student. He was always prepared and only required school supplies from me. During his early entrance in school he made friends with two boys whose mothers would help me with Jeremy on weekends when I would need to either visit my sister in New York or needed to help my mom.
My mom died in March 1997 and my sister the following year 1998 leaving me the sole survivor in my family. All of this left me completely devastated but my kids helped me through this and Jeremy was not a problem. He basically was a self sustained youngster. In the summer I would fly him to Charlotte, NC where he would stay with my oldest daughter and my youngest daughter Lisa. He attended a bible camp and he did this until age 12 when he said he had enough. Lol. One time I picked up Jeremy from the airport as he was coming up from the ramp a woman told me “you have quite the young man”. During that time Jeremy became really friendly with his best friends parents and they basically adopted him as one of the family. The mother in this family is a wonderful person and indeed to this day he is treated as one of the family.
During Jeremy’s teenage years the self starter in him became a camp counselor, he traveled around the country playing AAU basketball, played soccer and baseball, and studied the clarinet. When he became eligible to get his driver’s license he was there the first day when they opened and secured his license the first time. Shortly thereafter with money he saved he bought his first car with my help. Jeremy then delivered pizzas, sold Cutco knives to his friends parents as well as others. Thankfully for me, Jeremy was very little problem (with the exception of a few teenage escapades - a story for another day). Jeremy was a great student but very silly. He overcame some of that in High School and went on to complete four advanced placement courses. At graduation Jeremy received three substantial scholarships. It was college decision time. Full scholarships came in the mail and we traveled to several destinations and Jeremy visited some colleges without me. But it was New York University and New York City that really excited him. That was is where he went with a part time job every year. In the summer Jeremy was very fortunate to have internships at Johnson and Johnson which along with his other endeavors looked great on his resume.
It might seem like I’m bragging but Jeremy was such an extraordinary child and young person that many times I was amazed. I also want to emphasize that all my children worked part time as teenagers and I remain proud of them.
Jeremy graduated from NYU in May of 2011 on the dean’s list. Jeremy first job was AT&T in their Business Management Program in Atlanta, GA. This job came with a stipend for moving and I told Jeremy that “we” would have to look for an apartment. Jeremy informed me he had sublet an apartment. Again I said “this kid needs very little from me.” Jeremy likes dogs and I do not. Jeremy somehow convinced me to let him get a dog from the SPCA. I very reluctantly agreed. He said he would be completely responsible for the dog which he was. We then traveled to Atlanta on the worse car ride of my life 11 hours from home. That damn dog barked the ENTIRE time!
I am writing this article to show you can really go through a bad time and come out on the other side. To raise a child when you are a widow and all your other children are grown can be daunting but I survived and Jeremy survived big time. He has just always thrived. He met the love of his life at NYU and was married November 4, 2017. He turned 30 November 2018. He currently works at a start up that was just acquired and writes two blogs. God is Good!
… Yup, I know. She’s pretty awesome. I’ve done nothing to deserve a love like that. But I’ll take it 😍.
Thank you thank you thank you Gram!!