My wife, Angela, is an amazing person. She has overcome so much adversity in her life. She was sexually abused as a child. She started dating me at the age of fourteen, got pregnant and had our first child at seventeen. We got married and then three weeks later her brother committed suicide.
That is just the beginning. Our second child was born before she even turned twenty one. He had to have surgery at the age of one to have tubes put in his ears. By the time he was eighteen months he had an accident at daycare and broke his jaw. He needed reconstructive surgery on his face. A year later, our first born became very ill. She was diagnosed with a life threatening disease that landed her in hospitals around New England constantly.
This is still the beginning. My wife was the glue holding this family together. She took on the privilege of raising her niece when she was just ten years old. Then she started taking her nephew every other weekend from the time he was six months old. He is now over thirteen years old.
Often times our two children would get sick at the same time. A few of those times both children were hospitalized at the same times and sometimes, in separate hospitals. Angela was and still is a trooper through it all. She has the amazing ability to keep a positive attitude and still make everyone around her smile, no matter how tough life gets.
Years of this in and out of the hospital lifestyle, missing time from work and falling behind on bills consistently, yet still nothing was going to bring her down. And then I had an accident of my own. I jumped to catch a football that my son was throwing me one day when I got home from work, and when I landed, I wasn’t able to move. After an ambulance ride and a hospital stay, it was discovered that I have a rare muscle disorder and am permanently disabled. It took three years of no income at all before I was approved for financial help.
So along with her needing to take care of our special needs daughter, our son, our niece and nephew, she was burdened with having to help me as well. Of course she will never consider it a burden, but it has to be.
She had to work two jobs to keep up with the bills and relied heavily on her family for financial help. As our children were growing it seemed the load was getting lighter…a little. But then our son got a major concussion, then another and another. He ended up being diagnosed with seven or eight of them in the last two years of high school.
He missed most of his last two years but with online help and the teachers at the school being absolutely amazing, he was still on track for graduating. He suddenly became very ill, unrelated to the concussions. And then our daughter was ill once again. Both kids were scheduled for surgery in different hospitals in the same week.
Angela started missing more and more work to help care for the children. The past fifteen years or so was catching up to her. She lay in bed one day and couldn’t get up. She missed a lot of work and then her doctor put her out for the foreseeable future. She was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety, stress and chronic fatigue.
She kept trying to get back to work but then she would fall three steps back. There was nothing I could do to help her. There was nothing anyone could do. The State of Maine held her job for one year and then had to fill her position. They really did more than they had to and she holds no grudges. She never does.
We lost our home to foreclosure. We lost our car and couldn’t afford to replace it. We own a truck that has been paid for but we can’t afford the upkeep or gas. But does this stop my wife? No way. Once she was feeling better, she started looking for a job. Nothing was falling into her lap, so she started volunteering at our local hospital and now she has started facilitating support groups. She also created an online blog and Facebook page to do scheduling of the groups and to offer support in whatever way she can.
Her newest adventure has been doing public speaking. She tells her story to anyone that wants to hear it. This is her calling. By telling her story and helping others that have been through any of the things that she has makes her the happiest. She is so kind and compassionate that people just fall in love with her immediately.
She is still actively seeking employment, but she is so scared of leaving me at home alone on a full-time basis that she is hoping that offering her public speaking will be enough to sustain us financially. Yes, she wants to earn money, but she thrives on helping others get through the toughest of times.
No matter whom Angela shares her story with; she is helping someone in the community to know they are not alone. Her experiences throughout life affect people in such an inspirational way. The public speaking aside, her starting up local support groups for suicide survivors and sexual abuse victims has had a huge impact. They know that they are not alone.
She also helps teach self-esteem building which in turn helps children and adults become more compassionate which leads to less bullying and less bullying leads to less angry and hurt kids out there contemplating a school shooting or suicide.
There is no way to know an exact number of people she has helped with her words, she touches people’s hearts every single day as she walks through life with her head held high.