Melissa Pamela and Kevin Galen Lee
I gave birth to two children, Melissa Pamela and Kevin Galen.
Melissa Pamela Lee is my oldest. I was 30 years old when I found out the my flu actually had 10 fingers and 10 toes attached to it.
Melissa was born in the evening of July 11, 1985. The next day was her dad’s 32nd birthday. I was 31 when she was born. She is a reflecting image of me in many ways, but not in everything. Physically we look a lot alike with minor differences. Intellectually we share a kindred spirit. She has a lot of my mother’s personality. That is good. My mother was a very sweet woman who loved people and enjoyed life. A clock was not that important to my mother. My life is ran by a clock and I hate being late. Melissa is like my mother in this way, time and activities can wait if she has something she wants to do. My mother didn’t have money to waste and usually only shopped for food for our family, but she loved to shop. I hate shopping. I have always hated shopping, no matter what kind of shopping it is. Melissa absolutely loves to shop. She would be very content living in the world’s largest mall next to a farmers market with fresh produce. When Melissa was small my mother told me that as long as Melissa was alive she would be alive too because Melissa and her shared many common traits. After living with both of them, I can say Amen to that many times over.
I absolutely love being a mother. The day I found out I was pregnant with Melissa I started a diary to her. She has volumes of diaries that I wrote her during her childhood years. So does Kevin.
Melissa was active in everything. She made friends easily and thought I was her playmate. I was her playmate. Her first word was the same as Kevin’s first word, “uh-oh!” I had a habit of saying that every time I dropped something and during play time with my children, and all the children in my life picked up this expression too. Melissa especially loved cats and reading. Almost all of her spending money went for books. She read non-stop once she learned to read. She still reads like this.
Melissa loved school. Over half of Melissa’s friends were from the Hmong Culture from kindergarten throughout her schooling years. Today many of her friends are still from Asian cultures. These are the cultures she seems to identify with even though we are not Asian. I have always encouraged my children to embrace all cultures, ethnic groups, religions, and people different from us for their knowledge, experiences, and social acceptance to expand and grow.
In school Melissa excelled. Learning came easy for Melissa. She was in 4th grade when I started college. Melissa has a very competitive side. She was determined to do better than me in school. She started getting straight A’s from the time I started college. I do not believe she would have went to college if I hadn’t. It stimulated her in her academics. I told her that she had already done better than me because she was going to college right after high school and not 26-1/2 years later like I did. Still, her competitive spirit put her into the top 25 high school graduates of her Sanger High School Class of 2003. It also got her an academic scholarship to attend U.C., Irvine in Orange County, Southern California. I was still attending college myself and substitute teaching to support us when she left for college. I could never have afforded this school without that academic scholarship. I couldn’t have been prouder.
Melissa excelled in college too. At first she wanted to keep her GPA above my college one, but I encouraged her to have fun and not concentrate on her GPA so much. I was an older student and more focused and driven than she was due to my age and life experiences. I wanted her to have fun too. She did have fun in college and graduated with honors from U.C., Irvine in 2007.
Melissa was always a very healthy child, inquisitive, and an achiever. Today she works for U.C., Irvine. Melissa has done well for herself as an adult. She lives with her two babies, my grand-cats named Amy and Taylor. They are very spoiled cats to say the least. Someday I hope she marries and have children but for now neither of those things are in her plans. I know she will make a very good mother if she ever has children.
Melissa is also a very private person who ask that I not put too much of her life details as an adult on my web page. This is why I have not posted any of her adult pictures except her college graduation picture from college. I posted younger pictures of her per her request. I respect her privacy but I want her to be on my webpage too because she is my daughter. She understood this too.
Kevin Galen Lee is my second biological child. He was born in the early morning hours of February 22, 1988. Melissa and Kevin were born in the same surgery room at the hospital where I worked. Kevin was 7 weeks early and only weighed 3 pounds and 5 ounces at birth. Despite being a premature baby, he did well and came home from the hospital 3 weeks later after gaining one pound. He had no fat when he was born. Gaining fat is the last stage before delivery and he hadn’t got to that stage yet. He looked like a 90 year old swiveled up old man when he was born. He never did gain fat either. He filled out but remained very slender. At first Melissa was jealous of Kevin but she quickly got over it. She liked being the older sister. She would wait on Kevin, play with him, and they did well together. Kevin grew and did fine after his rocky and tiny beginning.
When Kevin was 3 years old and Melissa in first grade God answered my prayer to be home and raise my own children. See ‘my testimony’ to read my story. I loved being a full time mother. To financially survive I opened a daycare business in my home. Melissa and Kevin had a lot of kids to play with and they both liked that. Today I am still close to some of these children who I had for several years. See ‘other children who share my life’ to read about them. Our home was full of children, including Melissa and Kevin’s neighborhood and school friends.
Kevin struggled in school. He was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. Reading was hard on Kevin. Melissa read non-stop. From my experience I knew that parents and siblings do not make the best tutors or learning buddies for children who need help like Kevin, so I hired a neighbor boy to sit and read with him. He did good with that. I stayed very involved in his education too. He did his class work at school and again with me at home. He learned to spell by playing basketball. The beat of the ball helped him sound out words to hear their sounds. I was the room mother to both Melissa and Kevin’s classrooms so I knew what was happening in their school environment. I got to know their classmates and many of the parents. I am a firm believer that parents are the first and most important teacher in a child’s education and the teachers are secondary. For children to excel it takes both the parents and teachers working together to make it happen. As a parent I felt that way. As a teacher now I feel this way even more so, especially for children with special needs.
The elementary school Melissa and Kevin attended was a country school that went through 8th grade before sending the students to high school. I knew Kevin was not ready to go into junior high classes so I held him back in 6th grade. I did not want the other students teasing him so I transferred him to another country school in our district close to our home. Today Kevin is buried close to this elementary school. He repeated 6th grade there and did very well. Kevin was always more socially outgoing than Melissa and although they both made friends easily, Kevin was a natural social butterfly once he began school. He was very clinging to me before his schooling began. The following year Kevin wanted to go to the large junior high school in Sanger and not stay at a country school, so that is what he did. He excelled at the junior high. He still struggled in his academics but he was taken out of special education services there. He got very involved in wrestling and excelled in that too. His self-confidence skyrocketed due to his success in wrestling, especially after he pinned his first challenger. He loved his wrestling coach. Coach Dennis Keran was a strict drill instructor from “military boot camp hell.” Melissa and Kevin had him for physical education too. Melissa hated his classes because he was so strict and rigid. Kevin loved him. He was a strong male role model for Kevin and Kevin loved his discipline mannerism. He worked really hard in his academics to qualify to wrestle and make Coach Keran proud of him. Coach Keran was the only teacher Kevin asked to buy a gift for in all his schooling years. He got him two silver keepsake pieces and had his name engraved in them. Coach Keran was so touched I thought he was going to cry when Kevin gave them to him. Kevin absolutely loved him. A few months before Kevin died Coach Keran passed away suddenly from a heart attack. His death really affected Kevin. He really grieved him. After watching how Kevin responded to Coach Keran I knew he would do very well in a strict military environment and I encouraged Kevin to think about a military career. During high school he wasn’t interested, but after high school he changed his mind.
When Kevin went to high school he did not want to continue to wrestle, losing his motivation to excel in school to be eligible. The high school coach was Kevin’s free-style coach and nothing like Coach Keran. Kevin did not like this coach so he quit wrestling. He did not like Sanger High either. Melissa had excelled at Sanger High but Melissa was a self-teaching and self-motivating student. The teachers gave the assignment and she figured out how to do it. Her teacher’s loved students like Melissa. Kevin struggled in academics and needed a lot of extra help that he was too embarrassed to ask for. His behavior was good but he was not an easy student. He needed them to break down assignments into smaller blocks and re-teach again for him to comprehend the information. They didn’t have time for that in high school. I promised Kevin I would stay out of his high school education as long as he was doing good, but if he began to fail I was going to step back in. I was sub-teaching for his high school often and was right there to talk to his teachers myself. I had went to each of his teachers and ask them to call me if Kevin started getting behind. I asked the teachers how he was doing when I saw them too. Everyone assured me he was doing fine. Then the six weeks progress reports came out and he was failing classes. I requested a meeting with his teachers immediately. We had the meeting and all I heard were lies and excuses coming from each of these teachers. I finally stood up and told them the following, “I feel like I am standing at the edge of a swimming pool and my son is drowning. You each see him drowning but no one cares enough to jump in and save him. You don’t even care enough to call me to help him like I asked you to do. He is my son and I love him. I am going to jump in the pool and save him because I love him. You want students like Melissa who doesn’t need a teacher. If you want to teach, then teach children like Kevin who really need you to teach. I am still finishing my education to teach full time but I hope I never get so burned out that I don’t even care like you all have. You don’t even deserve the honor of teaching my son. You will never have him in your classes again because you flatly don’t care.” I pulled Kevin out of Sanger High that day and put him into a school that was a better fit for Kevin. As a Special Education teacher today I look back on that day at Sanger High and remind myself that my students need my intervention when they too are drowning. Kevin is the reason I became a Special Education teacher to work with children like him.
Kevin passed his GED 6 months before he was to graduate from Gateway and that ended his high school education. Kevin worked odd part time jobs for awhile before joining the Air Force National Guard, Fresno, California Flight 144 Security Forces Unit. He loved the National Guard. He also worked part time for a wholesale flower shop which he enjoyed too. When Kevin died his flower shop employer would not let me pay for any of the flowers. The family and casket flowers were absolutely beautiful, a gift from his employer.
You can read more about Kevin and his life, likes, personality, and friends under his ‘Memory’ section on this website. I have respected Melissa’s request for privacy so I haven’t went into much detail about her life, especially as an adult.
Melissa was 15 and Kevin 12 when I asked Jerry for a divorce. Once Jerry left we did not see much of Jerry for the remainder of their childhood years. As adults, both Kevin and Melissa built a relationship with their father. I am thankful for this. We can’t move forward until we can forgive and let go of the past. They were learning to forgive and let go to move toward each other. Good or bad, children need their parents and parents need their children.
On January 17, 2010 we lost Kevin very unexpectedly. It was a shock and great loss for all of us. We are all grieving our loss. Kevin was 21 years old when he died. He had a full military funeral. There is no greater loss than that of a child, especially for a parent. His life was just beginning as an adult when it ended. Please visit Kevin’s section for more about Kevin. Kevin can never be replaced. He was a real one of a kind original who put spice into the lives of everyone he touched. He was not perfect, but rather a real kid with real behavior doing real things. His good and bad created memories that I cherish today. I will grieve him until the day I die. Everyone who knew him will.
I am so thankful that I had Melissa and Kevin. My life would be so empty without them. They are my gifts from God. They are the reason all the other children who share my life came into my life to begin with. I cannot begin to thank God enough for giving me these two precious and wonderful children to love, raise, and enjoy.