Twenty years ago, I was a young single mom with a two year old daughter who had special needs, making my way through life as best I could. Along came this kind, caring, funny guy who stole my heart. He didn't only welcome me into his life he welcomed what would become our daughter as well. A year later our wonderful surprise baby was born. Tony was so excited and overjoyed and in love with our new baby boy born on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t long that we found ourselves walking down the aisle. With our friends and families surrounding us we took an oath to be by each other’s side for the rest of our lives in sickness and in health. Tony and I were very young and sadly we ended our marriage after five years. We did however, never stop loving each other and remained best friends. A few years after our divorce, I gave birth to a baby girl. Her father left her early on. Tony who was at the hospital on the day of her birth never treated her any different than our other two children. When he picked Alex and Ariana for visits, he took Bella along too. He chose to be her daddy. In spite of his illness, he chaperoned school field trips and volunteered to help with our daughters Special Olympic teams. He was also father to two of my nephews who didn't see their own dad. This is pretty incredible and unheard of for an ex-husband.
Tony became ill ten years ago when he suffered his first stroke. His kidneys had been unknowingly shutting down. We had no idea why as he had never drank, taken drugs, nor smoked. Tony was unable to live alone so he moved in my mother, who is a nurse. She cared for him like her own son. Even ill, Tony was by my side through good and bad. He was my best friend.
In taking our vows, I promised to him and God, to be by his side through sickness and in health and I took those vows seriously. For the last ten years, I along with many others have taken care of Tony through many medical struggles. He lost all kidney function forcing him to dialyze and register for a kidney donation. Years went by with no match, but we never gave up hope. He sadly suffered three heart attacks, lost his site in one eye, became diabetic, suffered a stroke, aneurism, loss of his left leg due to amputation, heart surgeries, and multiple other surgeries. Though it all we kept hope and had faith he'd get that kidney and we could keep him and see him well again. Sadly he ended up with weak vessels in his brain and developed seizures. Many meds were tried to get the seizures under control. They ultimately took him off of the transplant list because he was too sick to get a kidney. We tried the best we could to make memories and enjoy life as long as we could. Tony became a grandfather two years ago. He knew he was going to die but vowed to make it to two older children's graduation and our grandsons first birthday. When he seized in our daughters graduation he refused to call an ambulance saying he made it and he wasn't going anywhere until he sees her walk that aisle. Our son later had a baby of his own, maintained a full time job, all while he hooked his dad up to dialysis each night. He graduated high school with honors. Tony fulfilled his dream and was there to see him graduate and celebrate our grandsons second birthday!
Tony lived twice as long as expected and made it through many critical conditions, spending countless days in the hospital, with many of those stays in the ICU expected to die. Friday Tony suffered a stroke and was expected to die. He was given the option to go into comfort care or have brain surgery. The odds are one in two healthy people survive this surgery. Tony was given no chance. Tony opted for the surgery saying if he doesn't he'll die and he wanted to fight. Friends and family filled the room to pray and say goodbye including our three children. We lined the hallways as they wheeled him away for the last time. So we thought! He survived and even came out and was able to give us a thumbs up. Once again this courageous incredible man beat the odds!
Sadly he hemorrhaged again soon after and his body shut down. He was so loved! His room was so full of people there was no more room. With our children, family and friends by his side we honored his wish by removing his life support. We held him tight as he took his last breathe. I am devastated watching the pain my children are going through. We were given a gift shortly after his death, by finding out Tony was able to donate his eyes allowing two blind people to see. Even in death he is still changing lives!
We are overwhelmed financially now, as Tony was too sick to have life insurance. We need to find money to cover his memorial expenses, a celebration of life, and memory pendants for each child.
I'm not good with asking for help, but right now I have no other options. I've had to be very independent and take care of Tony and our kids on my own all of these years.
Many people have asked if there is anything they can do to help. If you feel the need to help us in this time of need, I want to thank you in advance as it means everything to me to be able to help my family heal with a few less burdens. If you cannot help financially I ask you to think about organ donation as it would have saved Tony's life allowing him to be here today. Please think of him on Friday the fourth of July (his favorite holiday) as we celebrate Tony's life, who he was, what he accomplished, and all he touched.
Thank You and God Bless.
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