Now I had Melissa and Kevin and I really wanted to be home with them. They were very active in all kinds of sports and school activities. They kept me busy and on the go. I was very involved in their lives. When Melissa was in first grade, and Kevin three God answered my prayer to be home with them. How I appreciate what God did for me. I loved being a full time mother. I missed my work in the emergency room but I opened a daycare to financially survive. I had a lot of children I took care of, so Melissa and Kevin did not grow up alone. They grew up with a lot of kids, which they enjoyed playing with. However, Kevin wanted a baby brother so badly that we gave him a cabbage patch boy doll and named him buddy. My first full time daycare child was named Austin and my last full time daycare child was named Austin. I call them big and little Austin. Big Austin was three when I got him. He was born on my birthday, April 13. He was a pill but soon settled down and became a real joy in our lives. I had his older brother, Grant, and his younger sister, Kira too. I had these children for about 5 years, so they are very dear to my heart. My little Austin was a pill too, but in a different way. He was born with Spinal Bifida and paralyzed from his waist down. He is the little brother that Kevin always wanted. I couldn’t even correct Kevin in front of Austin without Austin bursting out crying. The sun rose on Kevin as far as he was concerned. As for as Kevin was concerned, Austin was the apple of his eye and he totally loved and adored him. It was a match made in heaven. On the day Kevin died Austin’s parents brought Austin to me. They knew that he was the one person I would want to see and hold on that sad day. They were right. Being with Austin brings Kevin very close to my heart. They really loved each other. Melissa was in Southern California when I called her. She left as soon as she could but Austin was there within hours to comfort me along with family, friends, and members of Kevin’s unit in the Air Force National Guard. I really appreciate Austin’s parents for bringing him to me.
When little Austin came into our lives we had just paid off our property and mobile home, so I cut back in my daycare and only kept these two families. Little Austin was a lot of work, but sometimes God sends us someone our way for no other reason except he loves us, and that is what happened with Austin. We blessed each other. I love Austin as if he was my own son and I always will. He has wonderful parents and a loving family. He is a true blessing. We have learned so much from him. All my medical training as a nursing assistant (NA) during high school and in the emergency room has been used with Austin. He is our miracle.
I began taking care of little Austin and started college to become a Special Education teacher. Austin had needs and Kevin had ADHD and dyslexia. I was frustrated with some of the teachers Kevin had and I knew if I ever went to college I wanted to be a Special Education teacher to work with children like Austin and Kevin. I was 43 years old when I started college.
In the middle of my schooling Jerry and I went through a divorce. I was working full time, going to college full time, raising two children on my own, taking care of 2 acres and a home, and involved in different activities at work and in my personal life. My children came first though. Melissa and Kevin’s friends grew up in our home. Our house was the hangout place for them. I wanted to know what my children were doing and who they were with so I opened up my home to their friends and family from the time they began making friends in the neighborhood and at school. When Kevin died all these young people in their 20’s were showing up at my door feeling like they had just lost a brother. They had. They were very much a part of our home and lives. Kevin and Melissa’s closest friends even traveled with us, went on vacations with us out of state, and called my home their home too. One of Melissa’s friends came to live with us for her senior year of high school. Her name is Judy. She is in the section of “other children who share my life.” Kelly was another one of Melissa’s friends who spent a lot of time in our home and with us. She is my daughter too. Read about her family and her in the same section I mentioned above.
I finally started working as a teacher fulltime. Melissa, Kevin, and I all graduated in 2003. Melissa graduated from Sanger High School, Kevin from Washington Middle School, and I from Fresno State. Their friends graduated with them. Even Austin graduated from kindergarten that year. We had one big party and celebration. Our home was full of graduates.