We can fool ourselves into thinking that we have our lives well planned out. It was that way for me, being a product of the 1950/60’s: I’d go to college, meet my prince, get married, have children and live happily ever after. As much as I thought I knew what to expect, my life was riddled with surprises. But the last was the most unexpected, compelling me to write Fifth Child, a non-fiction book about the anguish and consequences of a drug-addicted child, which resulted in parenting her child almost since birth.

My husband and I are cast into a shockingly large demographic. Grandparents raising grandchildren is a growing phenomenon in our country because of our shifting economy, unmarried teen mothers, alcohol abuse and illegal drug use. Close to 10 million grandparents comprise the club. We had already raised four children. Jaime was our third child, and Brady is her son, who began calling us Mommy and Daddy when he was three. Readers may be amazed to find calamity overcoming a so seemingly traditional family. But as events and family history unfold, disturbing pitfalls and unfortunate genetic vulnerability reveal fault lines that can sabotage people from any walk of life.

"The Addict's Mom Sharing Without Shame" Video is so important whether addiction has touched your life or not. It's powerful. Please click on the link below to watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHNZbbePiKg

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Monday, September 10, 2012


(The following is an excerpt from Fifth Child)         

At first Stu thought it was just stomach gas. Then he thought it might be an ulcer or perhaps his heart. After several check-ups with negative finds, he concluded it must be a strained back and went for physical therapy. It was there that the therapist said he felt a mass on his abdomen that didn’t feel right.

After seven months of much discomfort, having to sit in an upright position to be able to fall asleep, in 2007, Stu was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s abdominal lymphoma. As with any C-word diagnosis, the news was devastating. With all we’d been through  -with all Stu had been through- it was hard to accept we had another hurdle to negotiate, especially with our newest responsibility. How were we going to do this? I had a husband getting ready to go through chemo and a three-year old going through the tyrannical three’s!            

Never a typical terrible two year old, Brady made up for it as soon as he turned three. He challenged and tested us every step of the way, throwing toys at us when he was frustrated, hiding in places we couldn’t find him and refusing to sit for more than thirty seconds in a timeout. Stu and I searched our memory bank for clues. But when our kids were young, not even Adam was this defiant. It seemed that Brady wanted to see how much we could take, whether we’d take it, and then also take him. I read that anger was a normal response for children with abandonment issues and that it will come out in places where a child feels safe. If this was true, it was good that Brady felt safe enough with us to express his anger, but very stressful on us keeping our emotional responses in check.                                                                                     

“Brady, we love you, no matter what you do,” we repeatedly said to him. Still he pressed on. There were certainly times we let him get the better of us and felt impotent in our parenting skills. It was exhausting, not only because of our ages, but with the uncertainty of what was ahead of us concerning Stu.                                                             

Stu was scared and I found myself with my walls up; not able to face that he had cancer. I drove him to chemo but couldn’t be around it, so I left and ran errands, anything for diversion. Stu thought it was mean of me, but I saw it as survival. I was overwhelmed by Stu’s illness and needed my wits about me to care for a child. “Lynne,” Stu weakly said after a chemo session, “I don’t think I can do this and raise Brady at the same time.” 

For Stu, going through chemo was like having a major flu that never went away. He felt so sick, so weak and in such pain that he thought we should have Brady go to one of our other children’s homes.                                                                                                                                  

“Please, Stu, we can’t do that to him.” I begged. “He’s been through enough upheaval in his short little life. We have to make this work.”  
The next day, we had planned a hair-shaving party so that when Stu began losing his hair, Brady wouldn’t be afraid. Our youngest son, Josh came over to do the job. Stu sat on our staircase, while Josh made jokes as Stu’s hair fell to the floor and Brady’s laughter filled the room. Afterwards, Brady climbed up on Stu’s lap and put his arms around Stu’s neck.  “I love you. You’ll be fine,” our little old soul said, in no uncertain terms. Then Brady began to sing and Stu felt the joyful spirit that only a child can bring. “I think Brady’s the one who’s going to get me through this,” he surrendered.                                    

Stu completed his treatment in July, just before Josh and Hazel’s August wedding. He was still weak and looked like the lead character in the movie, Powder. But Stu enjoyed being able to witness Josh happily getting married with Brady, Aidan and Skyler in the wedding party and brother, Adam as his best man. 

(That was five years ago -again, Amen!)  


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