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1973 - this was you on any given day, dirt and all

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1973 - this was you cleaned up a a little

     

Your life began in an old army hospital which had been converted from barracks. This was Ft. Carson, Colorado – and yep Uncle Sam had us – well your dad. It was just you and me babe, 1500 miles away from family and friends, a very scary time for an 18 year old kid who was soon going to be a mom. You just did not want to come out and I was paralyzed with fear wondering just how THAT was going to happen. After 24 hours of labor and an emergency C-section it finally did happen. On the 21st of February 1972, you joined me on the outside world. It had felt safe when you were inside me and now that you weren’t, I felt like I couldn’t protect you any more. I missed feeling your life within me but when I held you in my arms and looked down at your little beautiful face I just remember thinking how much I loved you. Then it happened, oh my God! I jerked with pain and threw you into the air as your little foot stretched and hit every single staple holding my incision together. To this day I don’t know how you returned to my arms without falling on the floor. The pain was so bad it was several days before I could hold you again. Even though we had a rough first meeting, I now couldn’t imagine life without you - you were now touchable, holdable, lovable, and mine. Soon after I returned home, a small apartment we were renting on Uintah Street in Colorado Springs, my mom and dad came to visit us. When she first sat down next to us she said ‘Now you know how much I love you’ and I’ll never forget that moment. As a kid growing up amongst 5 other kids, I just never thought that much about the love my mom had for me. She was always so busy washing clothes, cleaning house, feeding us and taking care of the little ones. This was probably the most loving thing my mom had ever said to me, because, yes – now I did know. Mom and dad stayed for about a week to help me around the house, and it wasn’t until they left when I truly realized just how much I missed them. When you were about 3 months old you met your other Grandfather, Raymond Curtis, Sr. We tried to take them to see all the sites our area had to offer, Pikes Peak, Seven Falls, and many others, so you ended up doing a lot of traveling for such a little one. The day after they left we laid down for a nap together and when I woke you were stiff as a board and burning hot. We rushed you to the hospital where you stayed in an oxygen tent for the next week trying to survive pneumonia. It happened so fast, I couldn’t understand how or why. I sat by your little tent for days just starring at you praying that God would help you through this. You were a fighter and you did pull through. Several weeks later we threw you in the back seat with all our worldly possessions and drove back to Maryland to live. We were finally out of the Army but now we had to worry about jobs and a place to live. It was wonderful though being close to my family again. I had missed everyone so very much, and there were a lot of people that wanted to meet you!

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1974 - the day Ray came into your life

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1974 - although very jealous at first you grew to love him after all

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1974 - you and your best bud, your cousin Chrissy

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1975 - one of the few pictures I could find of you and me together

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1975 - the four of us (I was pregnant with Jason at the time)

I’m so sorry that our life together for the next 5 or 6 years was so hard. Your brother Ray and Jason soon followed. I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to spend with you. I always had to work, and it felt as though I was always pregnant. It was hard carrying Ray on my hip and dragging you by your hand while I was so very pregnant with Jason. I was 23 and so very tired. I tried very hard but could no longer stay married to your dad so I put you all in the car one day and we drove away - never to return. That was quite an adventure as you remember – we drove down to Ocean City, spent the day on the beach and then drove back to Maryland, all in one day. You guys never let me forget the story about Ray having to go to the bathroom. It was around 1:00 am and Ray had to go very badly. There was not a place in sight and I did not want to pull the car off to the side of the road on such a dark night so I gave him a paper cup. As soon as he handed the cup back to me the bottom fell out and yep, you guessed it, mom got soaked with pee. I guess it was a poetic Kodak moment to end such a long day.

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1977 - Jason just would not cooperate!

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1978 - remember the old farm house? I wonder if we had water in that pool?

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1976 - after a 1000 mile car ride from hell - you broke out with the measles - just it time for Tommy's wedding

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1976 - you used to scare me to death climbing on this swing

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1983 - we moved into our first house and our first visitor - Santa Claus!

This was the beginning of our new single life – just you, me, and the two boys. I thanked God everyday that we were able to move in with Mom and Dad and they (affectionately nicknamed B-Mom and PopPop) soon became your surrogate parents. I started college and a couple part-time jobs so that I could start saving up money so that we would some day have our own home. I know I wasn’t around much for you then, but you were well taken care of by your grandparents. Well – they didn’t know all the things you used to do, like the time you made Ray and Jay ride their tricycles back and forth while you threw rocks at them for target practice!

You were always jumping around so I let you take some gymnastics classes and you were really good. You were so little and could do just about everything! Remember the slumber birthday party you had when you were doing back flips and landed on your back. Scared the hell out of me! I had to run you to the emergency room and thought you had broken your neck. This was, I think, our 5th visit to the hospital. First pneumonia, then the time you got so sick they had to hospitalize you and we didn’t know what wrong. As soon as we got you settled in your hospital room, you looked up at me and smiled with that new little tooth and you were fine. There were two more visits to have your head stitched up, the first when you fell at your birthday party into the coffee table, and the second when you were playing catch with daddy and ran into the corner of a wall! This was beginning to be an annual event. Oh I almost forgot the 6th time, when you fell off the swing at Lee’s house. I was at work when that happened so you scared B-Mom to death.

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1983 - my little angels - who dressed the guys?

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1986 - I though you might be too old, but you loved your cabbage patch doll, even named your first baby after her

     

I tried to attend at least one school event per year per kid so I know it seemed like I didn’t get to participate much but B-Mom and Pop were there for most. You never had a problem in school, you loved it, but remember what a hard time Ray used to have? I always wondered if you felt slighted in some way when I sent the boys to a private Baptist Church school. I had to work two part-time jobs just to pay for it. You never did get into brownies or girl scouts but you had some pretty close friends, and you always had your cousin Chrissy. You two were so close, you would follow her around and pick on her so bad and she would just hug and kiss you like her own little doll. You also used to love to BITE her! Oh, Aunt Ellie and I used to go crazy trying to figure out a way to make you stop, and then one day, Chrissy bit you back. That did it!

After 5 years of living with B-Mom and PopPop, I was able to put a down payment on a little townhouse and we finally had a home of our own. This was a huge accomplishment for me as I did not think I would ever be able to get a house on my own, but I did. We moved into the house a week before Christmas and as we were unpacking Santa Claus knocked on the door and came in for a visit. You kids were truly surprised. I think you knew about the real Santa Claus but you kept quiet while Ray quizzed him on the names of his reindeer. He never did tell us all the names but he sure did come up with a convincing story – Ray and Jason believed. I’ll never forget one stormy night when all 3 of you wanted to sleep with me and we all ended up huddled by the window watching the lightning when the street right in front of us exploded! A bolt of lightning hit some kind of power thing. We sat and watched the firemen and people for hours.

You were growing up and now you were looking at the guys, and they were coming around the house. Even though you were trying so desperately to grow up your eyes lit up when you received a cabbage patch doll from Santa. Little did we know that you would give this doll’s name to your first baby girl. Our relationship was very difficult during this time – I had a hard time communicating with you and you with me. We seemed to only yell at each other, or not talk at all. What is it about a teenage girl and her mom? I was again lonely and so very tired, except this was a good type of tired. I was working toward a goal and trying to make our life better. I used to keep a journal since I had such a hard time talking to you. I thought if I could write it on paper, I would be able to give it to you to read at a later date. I wanted to be able to remember all the little things I wanted to tell you but couldn’t, about how lonely it can be for a single mom of three, about how hard it is to find a decent man to just love you for who you are, why I had to work so much and why I had to spend my nights going to classes.

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1988 - you were the most beautiful Maid of Honor at our wedding

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1989 - you and Chuck at your senior prom

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1989 - graduation from Osborne Park High School

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1989 - graduation day - we were so proud of you.  Your boyfriend at the time, Chuck came as well

In January of 1988, Bob came into our lives and 3 months later we were married. Now my whole life was changing and it was wonderful sharing a life with someone who really cared about us – all of us. We bought a house in Dale City, VA and moved that summer. I was able to quit all my part-time jobs. You started high school at Osbourn Park in Manassas, VA and was actually able to skip a year and graduate early. Once you met Carrie, the two of you seemed inseparable. The relationship with Chuck soon ended and a new one began with Randy. He used to play the guitar in the band that Carrie used to sing for. The first time Randy spent the night at our house, I remember getting up in the middle of the night and we was sick in the bathroom. He remained there all night, throwing up again and again. When I found out he was diabetic and had run out of insulin and didn’t have money to buy any I was furious for the two of you not telling us! Except for my Dad’s mom having type II diabetes, this was my first exposure to type I. Three months later you got very ill with the flu. You were sick for a week and then you got really sick. I kept trying to make you drink Gatorade and you kept throwing it up. When we finally got you to the doctor, he immediately sent you to the hospital and informed me that you had diabetes. For a fraction of a second I thought – can you catch diabetes? I had no idea what having diabetes was all about other than seeing Randy so sick that one night. This was the second time I was to spend a week in the hospital with you, except this time you had a room full of people that loved you, not just me. I never was able to give you your insulin shot as I was really relying on Randy to help you through this. I tried to learn all I could about the disease but still cannot explain it (good thing I didn’t try to study medicine).

After tubal reconstruction surgery and two years of fertility drugs and schedules, and testing this and testing that, we did it, I got pregnant. What a miracle since the doctor’s told me I would only have about a 5-10% chance of ever getting pregnant and successfully carrying a baby to term. At 4 months I went into labor and was in and out of the hospital for the next 4 months. This time you were visiting me at the hospital. I was flat on my back for that last 4 months, constantly in labor and heavily medicated. By the miracle of God, we gave birth to a healthy 6 week premature little boy. You, the boys and Bob were such a big help to me, I never would have made it if the whole family had not pulled together and supported each other through that pregnancy. The real bombshell fell the week after I came home from the hospital with Joe. You told me you were pregnant. My baby was going to have a baby and I had just had one. I was excited, scared, sad, and every other possible emotion, but most of all I just wanted to let you know that we were behind you in what ever decision you were going to make. It was hard finding a doctor that would take you as a patient. The first one we went to said the only thing he would do for you would be to terminate the pregnancy. He said that pregnancy was out of the question with diabetes, as it would be too risky for yours and the baby’s health. You knew that termination of the pregnancy was not an option so we had to find a way to make this work. We started calling doctors on the phone and finally found Dr. Kay. He was wonderful. He was your Diabetic doctor but he worked right next door to an obstetrician – the same doctor that delivered Joe. With the two doctors working together and weekly visits throughout the entire pregnancy with each, you made it. Everything about your delivery was a repeat of mine with you, so I wasn’t surprised that you also had to have a C-section. You gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl in the world . She was a sugar junkie at birth so it was touch and go for the first week as they weaned her off the sugar. I’ll never forget driving up 95 during rush hour with you in the backseat with Randy. You kept telling me to hurry and I was so nervous. I didn’t think we would ever make it to the hospital in time.

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1996 - five generations- MamaSug, me, you, B-Mom and Marlie

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1991 - your baby and mine - they were so cute together

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1993 - you, Randy and Marlie, Seattle, Washington

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1993 - you and Marlie

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1989 - graduation from Osbourn Park High School

Your little family became part of our big family and for most of the next 2 or 3 three years we seemed to always have 1, 2 or 3 others living with us as well. I loved it. I loved having the house full of kids and since we had both babies in the same room with matching cribs, we felt like we had twins. We also had matching highchairs, matching car seats, and matching walkers, all borrowed from my brother Dave since his triplets were growing out of all this stuff just as we were needing it. Randy stayed home with the babies while Bob and I worked and you continued with your college classes. You had a hard time deciding what your major was going to be, so you were taking a little bit of everything. You always appeared interested in law, but first tried real estate, then history and then anthropology. You fell in love with the thought of ancient digs, fossils and rocks, but wondered just how you were going to make this into a career

We knew you wouldn’t live with us forever, but we didn’t think you would ever move clear across the country. My heart was broken when we said our goodbyes as you left for Seattle, Washington. Every time Joe asked where you were, we would say, she went to Seattle. One day he asked ‘Who’s Attle? Oh how I missed you and Marlie. I felt like someone had ripped part of my heart away. This was your first time away from me and I know you wanted this chance to ‘grow up’ and take control of your life. You wanted to continue classes but couldn’t afford to pay the out-of-state tuitions so you took a waitress job so that you and Randy could arrange your work schedules to take care of Marlie. The Seattle move did not turn out as you had hoped and the 3 of you returned within a year. You moved into our Germantown, MD townhouse and began a new life there. When you started working as a secretary for a lawyer, you became so excited about law again. Just being in the field seemed to excite you and you couldn’t wait to tell me all the things you were doing for the attorneys. I used to love to hear you talk about your work because you seemed so happy. Then the marriage came to an end. I never understood how or why but more than anything I thought you had both just grown up and apart. I felt helpless in my attempt to ease your sadness as the breakup was very hard for you. You stood strong though and kept going and was determined to make a new life for you and Marlie.

Then you met and eventually married David Nagy. During the whole relationship I thought you had truly met your match. He was very intelligent and challenged your mind. You seemed perfect for each other except for the uneasy feeling everyone else had about you both, including me. We all thought he was ‘weird’ but he appeared to make you happy so we dismissed so many obvious signs of trouble. God, if I had just followed my heart and intuition, I would have, should have become involved and protected you from him. Isn’t that a mother’s job? I failed. After all that we had been through our entire lives together, I more than anyone, should have foreseen the inevitable but I didn’t. When he moved you so far away from us, I wondered why. When he kept you from seeing your friends, I wondered why. When I came to visit you at your new house I had told you I was going to spend the night with you. I had just spent the last 48 hours in the hospital with Marlie so that you could get some rest. Marlie’s diabetes had onset a couple weeks after she started the 2nd grade. You looked so tired and I was more worried about your diabetes getting out of control, especially under such stress. But when I came to your house I got the most awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t stay there. I saw guns laying all over the place and you just said Dave was cleaning them all. I knew that he collected guns but I didn’t understand why they would just be out laying around. I thought he was taking advantage of the fact that Marlie wasn’t home so he didn’t have to worry about putting them away while he was cleaning them. After our one hour visit at your house, I lied to you and said I had to go home because I had forgotten my medicine so I hugged you, kissed you, told you I loved you, hugged you some more, and Joe and I left. I talked to you several times during the next week as you had just started a new job, another attorney’s office, and you loved it. You were getting back the same excitement you had when you had worked for the other attorney in Rockville. Marlie was under control with her diabetes and back to school and doing OK. Everything seemed to be going great for you. When I called you that Friday night to talk about our weekend plans, I could tell right away that something was wrong. You kept trying to say everything was alright, but I knew it wasn’t. As much as you were trying to hide it, I could tell you were crying. I wanted to do something, say something to help you but you said there was nothing you wanted me to do, that you would call me back. I asked if you were having a fight with Dave and you quickly answered yes. This scared me because I immediately felt like he was standing right next to you listening to every word you were saying, just in case you might say something you shouldn’t. I remember you saying goodbye and as I hung up the phone I just looked at Bob and said ‘something is wrong – they’re having a fight’.

We later learned that you died within 15-30 minutes from our phone call. Honey, I’m so sorry I didn’t stay on the line to keep talking to you. Maybe it could have made a difference. I’m so sorry that I did not recognize all the warning signs, that I didn’t follow my intuition to protect you. Please forgive me for not being there to help you. The next time I saw you, I tried to brush the blood caked hair out of your face. I wanted to clean the blood off of you but they wouldn’t let me. I wanted to hold you but your body was tied and zipped in a bag. I wanted to hug you to get you warm again, as you were so cold. I wanted to tell you I love you but you couldn’t hear me. I wanted to scream at the world but no sound would come out. My heart was exploding with grief and disbelief. It still seems like I’ll soon wake up and this will just have been a horrible, horrible nightmare. How, why, these are questions that will probably never be answered until I see you again …

I will love you always,

Mom