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Dear Tom,

My mom is the youngest of 6 siblings: 4 brothers and 1 sister.

She was on a track & field scholarship throwing the shot put, throwing the discus and running track…but then I came along and slowed her down.

She was majoring in behavioral science, so she found a job with the school system working with children who were diagnosed with severe behavioral issues like A.D.H.D. and anxiety disorders.

She worked full time and always had a part-time job on the side while raising me and going to school full time at night until she graduated in 2008.  That’s when she moved back to her hometown of Roanoke so she can care for parents who are both having health issues in their old age – her mother is 72 and her father is 75.

She works as a mental health clinician, helping her clients manage every part of their lives – from paying their bills to attending doctor’s appointments and whatever they need.  This field is highly stressful and there is a high turnover rate but she enjoys working with and helping others.

My mom just turned 40 on May 18th but she doesn’t look it.  For the longest time, she has talked about going on a trip to Miami.  She sees it on TV shows; in movies…she even goes online to look at videos and pictures of the magic city.