A Life That Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo - A Lesson for Us All

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In 2004-5, when the Terri Schiavo case divided the country, one side of the story was buried under the avalanche of politics and power. Now, Terri Schiavo’s parents, brother, and sister speak out—for Terri and themselves. A LIFE THAT MATTERS may well change every assumption you have about Terri’s too-brief life and prolonged, agonizing death.

Here the people who loved her and knew her best tell the story not only of the fifteen years Terri struggled to stay alive, but of a ...

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A Life That Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo -- A Lesson for Us All

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Overview

In 2004-5, when the Terri Schiavo case divided the country, one side of the story was buried under the avalanche of politics and power. Now, Terri Schiavo’s parents, brother, and sister speak out—for Terri and themselves. A LIFE THAT MATTERS may well change every assumption you have about Terri’s too-brief life and prolonged, agonizing death.

Here the people who loved her and knew her best tell the story not only of the fifteen years Terri struggled to stay alive, but of a gentle child who brought happiness to everyone she touched. This is the story of a normal adolescent who blossomed into the beautiful young woman who captured Michael Schiavo’s heart. And it is the inside story of their troubled relationship, for the members of Terri’s family were witnesses to a growing tension—and were her confidants as she struggled in her marriage with the husband who would later crusade for her premature and unnecessary death.

A book that stakes clear moral ground without a political aim, A LIFE THAT MATTERS takes us inside Terri’s family when the courts ordered her feeding tube removed, and it leads inexorably to a scene that will haunt readers forever: a bereft family barred by the police from their daughter’s hospice room in the final moments of her life.

A LIFE THAT MATTERS separates lies from truth, myth from facts, and politics from people. It challenges us to hear the words and feel the emotions of the warm, intensely private family who never sought the media storm that accosted them, or the devastating legal battle that broke their hearts. The book asks us what we would do if we found ourselves, as the Schindlers did, wanting nothing more than to love and care for a daughter as long as she could live.

The Schindler family lives and works in Florida. All of their profits from this book are being donated to the organization they created in Terri’s name, The Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, which fights for the lives of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this work, Terri Schiavo's parents and siblings present their chronology and views concerning her illness, their fight for her life, and her death. Firmly convinced that Terri was not in a persistent vegetative state, the family seek to educate others who may have severely handicapped loved ones. By documenting the mistakes they feel they made as they sought medical and legal assistance, they hope others will know better how to advocate for those in similar circumstances. Unfortunately, not all aspects of this program will promote their cause. They denounce Terri's husband, Michael, for actions, specified and unspecified, that they believe contributed to Terri's condition. It is unclear why their legal arguments did not save Terri; they simply assert that she was murdered by the legal system that would allow her to "starve to death" without due process. Not all listeners will agree with the religious convictions that the Schindlers would like to see codified into law. The narration by Kate McIntyre and Don Leslie add to the quality of the program; however, most listeners will probably need to turn to the printed version and Michael Schiavo and Michael Hirsh's book Terri: The Truth(unavailable as an audio program) for further documentation and discussion. Recommended for public and church libraries.
—Kathleen Sullivan
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446579872
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/27/2006
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

A Life That Matters


By Mary Schindler Robert Schindler Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo Bobby Schindler

Warner Books

Copyright © 2006 Mary and Robert Schindler, Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo, Bobby Schindler
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-57987-4


Chapter One

THE COLLAPSE

The phone call woke us. I watched my husband, Bob, stumble to the living room of our small condo, a matter of fifteen steps, where he picked up the receiver. It was around 5:30 a.m., February 25, 1990. Calls at that hour could only mean bad news.

"Dad, it's Michael," the voice on the other end of the line said. "There's trouble. Terri's passed out. She's unconscious. I can't wake her up."

"Call 911," Bob shouted, and slammed down the phone.

"There's a problem with Terri," he said, coming back to the bedroom. We decided to call our son, Bobby, right away. Bobby, aged twenty-five, lived in the same apartment complex as Terri and Michael, whose address was 12001 4th Street North, in St. Petersburg. Bob went back to the phone. "Something's happened to Terri," he whispered to Bobby, barely able to get out the words. "Michael called and said he can't wake her up. You ought to get over there right away. Check it out and call me back."

1. Michael Schiavo claims that he called 911 before calling Bob. We know otherwise.

Numb, too shocked to feel pain, Bob returned to the bedroom again. He has always had high blood pressure, and I waswatching him with anxious eyes, close to panic over him and over Terri, yet half sure that nothing really bad had happened to our daughter. We had just had dinner with her that evening. Had gone to Mass with her that afternoon. None of us realized how ominous the news was. There was nothing for us to do for the moment except get dressed and wait for Bobby's report.

Over the years, Bobby never told us fully what happened when he entered Terri and Michael's apartment. The memories were too vivid, his pain too great. But now, in tears, courageous, he told the story:

"The apartment was only two hundred yards away, but I figured it would be faster by car. So I threw on some jeans and a T-shirt, drove over, got out, and went to the third floor. Michael answered the door. I went in. Terri was lying face down in the corridor between the bathroom and the living room.

"I remember it like it was only hours ago. Her torso was on top of her arms with her hands up by her neck. I could see half the side of her face, and she was having trouble breathing, like almost a gurgling sound. I leaned down and shook her shoulders and said, 'Terri, get up. Get up.' There was no response. And it was at that moment that the paramedics knocked on the door.

"Michael let them in, and actually I think he was behind me when I shook Terri's shoulder, or to my side. At first, I wasn't overly concerned. I'd seen Terri just a few hours earlier in my apartment. She was perfectly fine. I asked her to go out with me and my roommate, Craig Hicken, that night, and she said she didn't want to because she had been fighting with Michael earlier that day and she was going to wait for him to come home. So I said okay, and I remember she ironed my pants.

"So I wasn't really concerned. I thought she had just passed out. But when the paramedics got there-as soon as they went down and assessed her condition ... I mean, I knew it was serious. That's when I became frantic.

"They didn't say much. The only thing I remember, they wanted to know if there were drugs. They were really hitting us hard about drugs. 'Does your wife do drugs?' 'Does your sister do drugs?' In fact, one of the paramedics got in my face and said, 'Look, if you don't tell us that she was doing drugs, you know we're going to hold you responsible.' I think they even threatened criminal charges against me. And I knew my sister. I never knew Terri ever doing drugs. I mean, she would drink-socially drink when we went out. But never drugs. And I was adamant. 'No. She doesn't do drugs.'

"I remember the paramedics being young. I remember them hitting Terri with the defibrillators a number of times. I remember I called my dad. I went into the living room and called my dad. And didn't know what to tell him, except that she would be taken to Humana Northside Hospital. I said it was serious, but they didn't know what was wrong with her. My dad kept asking me over and over again, 'What do you think is wrong?' And I didn't know. I didn't know what was wrong. And we just waited. And they were working on her for upwards of a half hour.

"In that time frame, the police arrived, and firemen, and more paramedics. They finally got Terri stabilized enough to put her on a bed, one of those rolling beds. I remember them taking Terri out, and I remember looking at the floor. I couldn't believe all the stuff that was on the floor-trash that they were using. You know, something they injected her with, stuff they were using on her. There was just trash everywhere. Needles everywhere. So I knew there was something seriously wrong, terribly wrong, because they were injecting her with things, I guess to try to get her heart started.

"I walked downstairs. Someone was left behind-I don't know if it was a paramedic or policeman or firefighter. I said to him, 'What's going on? What's wrong with my sister?' And I remember him saying, 'If she makes it to the hospital alive, it'll be a miracle.'

"Michael got in the ambulance with Terri. I said, 'Michael, I'll be there shortly.'

"I was hysterical. I drove home, hands shaking. I called my girlfriend at the time, Julie White, to come and get me-I could barely drive, I told her. I walked in the door of my apartment and I fell to my knees and I just started crying. I woke Craig up. He was half asleep, didn't know what was going on. I told him what had happened, and Julie got there a short time after, and then we drove to the hospital."

(Continues...)


Excerpted from A Life That Matters by Mary Schindler Robert Schindler Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo Bobby Schindler Copyright ©2006 by Mary and Robert Schindler, Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo, Bobby Schindler. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 15 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 9, 2009

    I STILL cannot believe this happened in our country

    I'm so glad I found this book. I read the entire book in 1 night. I couldn't put it down. Michael Schiavo should be in prison, as should many of the judges and attorney's involved in this political and disgustingly selfish (in Michael's case) Murder. This is very, very sad, embarrassing, and unjust chapter in the history of our country.
    Terri was a beautiful young lady who's life was snuffed out by Schiavo. As you will read, it seems very possible that he, as I suspected when this was in the news daily, may have been actually responsible for her brain damage in the fist place. Terri's is truly a Life That Matters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2007

    very good

    This was a hard book to read i have 3 children of my own and i am divorced and the book was wonderful i can not imagine what rhis family went thru and it makes you stop and think at how lucky we are that our children are ok. It also saddened me to see what this family went thru and how strong they are as a family. It broke my heart to read this book but it also made me think long and hard about people and how some peopletreat others

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2007

    Terri will always live in my heart

    As a survivor of head injury, coma, and long, difficult rehab I grew to love the Shindlers and understand the challenges they faced to take care of their own daughter. I hope that nobody else has to go through this at the hands of a 'husband' who has obviously moved on with his life. Mr. Schiavo did not have the grace to step aside and let her family love and care for her, like my family had the opportunity to care for me when I needed them so. I will never marry again. Not with the ownership it represents. I am completely independent now. I work, love, and I will always remember the struggle. Terri is in my heart forever. May God bless the Shindlers for standing true to their own. ~K. Norcross.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    This is in response to a previous review. What a pity that the family couldn't let go? Did you call it a merciful death????? What a beautiful family Terri has. How lucky was she that she had a loving family in her short life. May God always bless Terri.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2006

    A true Victim Soul

    God had plans for Terri's life and as I finished the last pages of this book it was clear to me how God uses tragedy to bring out good-- as well as evil! My heart truly goes out to the Shindler family for all they endured. The fact that ALL they wanted was to care for their daughter and sister and yet they were stopped cold in every way. More & more the prophecies of the past are playing out! God help us all!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2006

    a wonderful book

    This book is a very good look at the mindset of the healthcare industry today. This family should be commended for what they did to defend their daughter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2006

    A Must Read

    You need to read this book. All personal, political and religious beliefs aside, this is a story about one family's relentless battle to save someone they loved deeply. Whether you support the Schindler's or not, I am certain you will not be disappointed. Very candidly, this family allows readers a glimpse into their lives as they walk you through the past 15 years and explain the emotional toll it took on each of them. They also paint a picture of what Terri was like -- the real Terri, the one we never knew -- her personality, her strengths, her shortcomings. There are things in this book that will amaze you... things we on the outside never knew or saw through the media. You won't regret reading it, I promise.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2006

    The Truth that wasn't reported...

    I had read and heard the alleged reports of Michael Schiavo's mistreatment of his wife, Terri, in various media reports during the legal battle. I had no idea the gravity and frequency of his abusive behavior before and after her 'medical episode' until I read this book. It is heartbreaking that these facts weren't thoroughly reported prior to her death. I think the American public would have had a better understanding of why her family was fighting so hard to keep Terri alive. I hope people on both sides of the issue will read this book because it is so powerful in conveying the message in its title...each life does matter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2006

    It's Like I Relived the Whole Thing

    Once I knew this book was going to be published, I rushed to buy it. For the FIRST time, the Schindler family breaks their silence about what happened to Terri. It was like I walked and relived those horrific last days with them and how much the media sensationalized such a private family matter. It gave me an eye opening look at the politics of dying in America and I hope others will read this with compassion and know that they could be next... Thank you!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2006

    Just a shame...

    What a pity this family couldn't just let their daughter go. This book adds nothing to the debate, and only serves to illustrate how far from reality Terri's birth family had wandered by the time of her merciful death.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2006

    THIS POOR FAMILY WAS STOPPED AT EVERY TURN

    WHEN THIS WAS HAPPENING I WAS GLUED TO THE TELEVISION AND RADIO. I COULD NOT BELIEVE THIS NIGHTMARE WAS HAPPENING IN AMERICA. THERE WERE SO MANY QUESTIONS LEFT UNANSWERED ABOUT WHAT HER HUSBAND CLAIMED WERE HER WISHES (FOR EXAMPLE WHY DID IT TAKE SEVEN YEARS FOR HIM TO REMEMBER TERRI TOLD HIM SHE WOULD NOT WANT TO LIVE IN THAT CONDITION-COME ON!! SEVEN YEARS - PLEASE!!) AND HOW IT KEPT GOING BACK TO THE SAME JUDGE THAT WAS SO PARTIAL TO MICHAEL'S SIDE AND SO PREJEDICE TO HER PARENT'S SIDE. IT BROKE MY HEART WHEN IT HAPPENED AND IT BROKE MY HEART TO HEAR THE WHOLE STORY. THE STORY WE DIDN'T KNOW. NO FAMILY SHOULD HAVE TO GO THROUGH WHAT THEY WENT THROUGH.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2006

    GREAT BOOK! Honest, Informative and Compelling

    I am very pleased that this book was written-It dispels quite a bit of Mike Schiavo's story. The husband's well financed legal maneuvers, changes in his stories and true objective become incredibly clear to the reader. In addition, this book offers insight to the Schindler family, what was actually going on during their plight and how Schiavo a man only known to Terri for five years attempted to unsuccessfully destroy the family she loved.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2006

    it's a shame

    What a pity that this family was unable to face reality. Their daughter was only existing not living with no quality to her life. What a blessing that her husband loved her so much that he had the courage to let her go!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2006

    One side of the story only

    You are only reading one side of the entire story. Please look at the WHOLE picture and make an educated decision. This was a beautiful young lady, but her quality of life was nonexistent. I was looking at the long term care required for all family members and her condition. Politicians should stay out of family situations.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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