Life is unpredictable. When we least expect it, it can be changed forever. That moment came for author Benedetta Lino when her one-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the possible result of a serious adverse reaction to the DPT vaccination. Yet in the years to come, Benedetta refused to give up hope and refused to let her daughter experience anything less than true and unconditional love.
Heartwarming, yet bittersweet, Tears of My Angel recounts the years of struggle, pain, love, and hope that the Lino family endured. Benedetta recounts the early years of her daughter's life, of the numerous tests and hospital stays, until the diagnosis ﬁnally came in 1985. But from that moment on, things only became more diﬃcult.
As Benedetta and her husband learned to care for their daughter in the comfort of their home, they found strength in each other and in the love they had for Laura. As the years passed, and the normal milestones of a child's life passed with-out being celebrated, the family instead celebrated the beauty of life, of Laura's courage, and of the power of love.
Tears of My Angel inspires, educates, and encourages, but most of all, it reaﬃrms the ability of hope and love to sustain us through our darkest days.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.41(d)|
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Tears of My Angel
By Benedetta Lino
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Benedetta Lino
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJuly 24,1982
It was a beautiful sunny day, a perfect day for two hearts to be joined together. There I was at the altar standing beside the most beautiful and wonderful man I would ever know for the rest of my life.
I can still hear the words spoken echoing through the air, "Do you, Benedetta, take Gaetano as your husband, to have, and to hold, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?", "I do," and "Do you, Gaetano, take Benedetta as your wife." Those words meant everything to us but didn't need to be spoken. In our hearts we already belonged to each other. We were then, and always would be, deeply in love. Love and hope, such small words, yet monumental in their meaning and in the power they bestow. Two of the strongest forces that would help us live through the most horrible tragedy of our lives. They would give us the strength, the courage and perseverance we would need to make it each and everyday.
It was a beautiful day. As the wind blew through my hair; my veil was swept up behind me like a soft cloud. I felt an excitement and happiness inside of me that I had never felt before. I looked at my husband and couldn't believe how lucky I was. In the days that followed we began our life like all newlyweds. We were exploding with happiness. I was twenty-two years old and Gaetano or Tany pronounced like Donny was twenty-six.
August of 1982, One month into our marriage we got the most exciting news. We were expecting our first child. We were happy at the thought of becoming parents. We contacted everyone to tell them the wonderful news.
We called Tany's parents in Palermo, Sicily. They were very happy. It was another beautiful experience we were living through. We were going to have a baby. I never thought life could be so wonderful. Like all soon-to-be parents, hopes and dreams began to pour into our hearts and our minds like rivers flowing into an ocean. Our dreams were endless. We went for many long peaceful walks. It was autumn under beautiful skies and colorful trees, with cool breezes caressing our faces. Then winter arrived, so we bundled up and walked in the cold crisp air over white glistering snow. Spring was finally here. It was a time of renewal, a time of birth. On May 11, 1983, at 1 a.m., the long awaited moment had arrived. We were filled with excitement and joy. Tany quickly called the doctor and our families.
Then we were off to the hospital, where we were met by my mother, sister and other family members. The pain was getting worse and my mother tried to reassure me that this was normal. Then came the long hours in labor. Tany was always at my side holding my hand tightly and drying my tears. The time came to go to the delivery room and Tany gave me the strength to bring our child into this world. The delivery was quick. The miracle of life was there before our eyes. The doctor said, "Congratulations, you have a beautiful daughter." He handed the baby to Tany. Tears of pride rolled down Tany's face as he stared at her in amazement. Holding her carefully, he brought her over to me. She was all pink and soft. As I kissed her velvety skin I called her, "My little rose". Our beautiful daughter was born on Wednesday, May 11th 1983 at 7:58 a.m. We named her Laura. It was a name we both loved.
Once at home, we began a new life. This time we were three. As first time parents, we worried about every little thing. We felt a great sense of responsibility. Yet, above all, we felt very lucky and very privileged to have received such a precious gift. Just when we thought we couldn't be happier, we realized we were happier than ever. Since Tany's parents couldn't be with us to share in this joyous moment, we sent them pictures of their first grandchild and kept in touch by phone and letters. Every time I spoke about Laura, I said, "My daughter," just those two words made my heart grow bigger from the pride and joy I felt. It was wonderful becoming a mother
Laura was growing and becoming more beautiful everyday. At two months she was due for her first immunizations, DPT and OPV. At that time she also had a complete check-up. The doctor said she was healthy and strong. He said she might develop a fever from the immunizations and be a bit irritable. He suggested we give her Tylenol every four hours if needed. That evening Laura had a slight fever and cried a little, so we gave her some Tylenol. The following morning Laura was fine and her usual giggly self. Around this time, Tany and I began talking about returning to our native country, Sicily. It was very hard to forget its splendor. It is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean. Sicily has many unique features, like the marvelous sea that surrounds it, and the golden beaches that seem to frame the steep and rugged mountains. The climate is almost perfect all year long. Sicily's rich history is told by the many monuments and ruins of past civilizations, which give this island its rare beauty and its mysterious charm. The food, wines, pastries, and gelato will please not only your pallet, but also your heart. The miles and miles of coastline, the architecture, the olive, orange and lemon trees that perfume the air are all wonders to behold. For Tany and I and our little Laura, this was going to be an almost magical place in which to live.
We began the preparations for our move. I was very excited about returning to the land where my roots were, but I was also filled with sadness for the people I loved and would leave behind, my mother my sister, and my brothers. I told myself not to worry, I would visit them and they would visit me. Besides, we would write so it was going to be okay. Still, I felt sad. Laura was growing lovelier every day. We were enchanted with her. Taking our eyes off of her for just a moment was a moment lost. We just stared at her for long periods of time. It was amazing how such a little child can give so much joy.
We knew the moment she was born that she and any other child we might have would always be our first priority and everything and anyone else would have to take second place. Our lives evolved around Laura. She was our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night. We adored every little inch of her. Tany loved taking pictures and was an excellent amateur photographer. He took many pictures of Laura, trying never to miss a special moment. He started a charming photo album. He drew the cutest characters. He pasted pretty flowers and wrote funny phrases that described each picture. He wanted to capture all the happy moments as Laura grew from baby to teenager to adult. This would be her gift. Her life up to that moment would be all captured in pictures by her beloved father.
There are no words to describe his love for her then and now. Too many times I've heard people speak of a mother's love and devotion. Rarely have I heard about a father's love and devotion towards his children. Many wonderful loving fathers have never received the recognition of their unconditional love and endless sacrifices for their children. I believe it's because of the ideal image of mother and child, giving birth and breast feeding that people think there can't be any bond closer than that. September of 1983
Everything was set. We had our passports, and we decided that Laura and I would leave first. Tany would continue working for three more months in order to earn extra money that would help us get settled once he arrived in Sicily. In the meantime, Laura and I would live with his parents. This transit would be difficult. Tany would suffer not being able to see his little princess for all that time. Three months would feel like a lifetime.
Tany had written to his parents to inform them that Laura and I would be leaving on The 8th of September. They were very happy to know that their very first grandchild would soon be in their arms. Laura was almost four months old. She was due for her second immunizations. I called the doctor's office to explain that we were leaving on the 8th, and asked if it would be alright to bring Laura in. I was told it would be fine. On the morning of the 6th of September, Laura received her second shots, DPT and OPV. The doctor gave Laura a check-up and said she was healthy and strong and was gaining the appropriate weight for her age.
That evening about nine p.m. we were watching television. Laura was in her crib sleeping. Suddenly she woke up crying hysterically. Tany and I jumped off the couch and ran into her room, our hearts pounding with fear. She had never cried like this. We took turns holding her and pacing back and forth, trying to calm her. We just couldn't understand what was wrong. She felt a little warm so I took her temperature. It registered 101.5. As Tany continued to calm her, I went to get the Tylenol
We suspected she might not feel well after the immunizations, although she got through the first shots with very little discomfort. I called the doctor at his home and apologized for calling so late at night. I explained Laura's behavior, and he said it was not unusual for babies to cry like that when they don't feel well, but that she should calm down once she gets tired. He added, "If necessary, repeat the Tylenol." Tany was still pacing back and forth. I suggested putting her back in her crib and laying her on her side. Maybe, the rocking would help, but it didn't. Laura continued to cry. In fact, she cried for almost two straight hours. Tany went to pick her up again. As he lifted her out of the crib, she stopped crying. Her body became very rigid with her arms and legs stretched out. All at once she became very limp, and within minutes, fell into a deep sleep. The entire episode lasted fifteen or twenty seconds. We looked at each other confused about what had just happened. However, we were relieved that Laura had stopped crying and was finally resting comfortably. We came to the conclusion that what happened was due to pure exhaustion from all the crying.
The next morning when Laura woke up she smiled and giggled and was very hungry. We were just about done with our packing, except for a few last minute things. We had very little time left to be together. I was sad and excited. Tany kept telling me to be strong; to take care of our little angel and take good care of myself and that we would soon be all together again. On the day of departure, I said my last tearful good-bys again to all the people I loved dearly and was leaving behind, not knowing exactly when I would see them again.
Once at the airport the time went by so fast. Our flight was called and we were about to board the plane. Tany and I hugged each other tightly as tears of pain rolled down our faces. We didn't say anything because we were too choked up, so we just looked into each other's eyes and the words were there. He then swept his little angel into his arms and said, "Daddy will be with you soon." He kissed her and told her how much he loved her and then handed her back to me. With a suitcase in one hand, and my daughter held securely in my opposite arm, I began to walk down the long corridor. I kept turning for one more look at Tany's handsome face and one more wave good-bye. Then I took a deep breath, dried my tears, and remembered Tany's words: "Be strong, we will be together soon."
Once on board the plane, I settled in my seat and tried to make Laura as comfortable as possible. Two female flight attendants came by to see if I needed anything and they asked if they could hold her. Throughout the flight, whenever I needed to use the restroom, they were all too happy to take over. I even found one of them feeding Laura some pureed fruit because earlier I had remarked that she hadn't eaten anything. Finally, after a long but pleasant flight, the captain announced that we were about to land in Sicily. I was suddenly overtaken by overwhelming emotion. My eyes filled with tears and I felt an electrical magnetic sensation all over my body. It was as if the land, my land, was pulling me towards it and welcoming me into its maternal embrace. Immediately, I looked out the small window, and there she was, all illuminated by a golden light that came from the splendor of the sun. The captain flew right over the deep blue sea. It was so close, that I wanted to reach out the window and touch it. I pressed Laura tightly against my chest and whispered in her ear that we were finally home in the land of our ancestors. In that moment I knew with all certainty that Tany was with us in our hearts and in our souls.
The two flight attendants were sad to see Laura go. They wished us good luck as we waved good-bye. The plane landed at the airport in Palermo the capital of Sicily.
Eagerly waiting for us were my in-laws and a few other relatives whom I had not seen in over ten years. There was my uncle Tanino and his wife aunt Claudia. There was also my uncle Enzo and his wife aunt Graziella and my dear nonna Angelina. How wonderful it was to see them all again.
Chapter TwoTwo days after we arrived, Laura turned four months old. Other family members came to see us. Everyone went nuts over Laura, with her wavy golden brown hair, her beautiful blue eyes, her dark long lashes, her perfectly arched eyebrows, her light pink porcelain skin and her puffy rosy cheeks.
They called her Bambola, which means doll. I don't think there could have been another little girl in the world at that moment who was receiving so many compliments, gifts and kisses. My charming little angel had their complete attention. I just stood there in the back ground feeling so proud to be the mother of little Miss Universe.
The next day I wrote a letter to Tany. I described everything about our flight and our arrival.
It took a while for Laura to get adjusted to the change. Many nights went by as I paced back and forth to try to make her fall asleep. My mother-in-law and I took turns. Eventually, Laura began to sleep through the night.
Every morning I gave her a bath, which she loved. Then I dressed her up. Her dresses and outfits were always pink and white with ruffles and bows.
Every day I would put her in her stroller and along with one of my in-laws, I took her for a refreshing walk to a beautiful place called Il Giardino Inglese or The English Garden. It was designed to look like a romantic private country garden of the nineteenth century. There we would walk among some old, beautiful trees, such as oleanders, african palms, elms and fig trees. Most of them had been there for hundreds of years. There were fountains with cherubs and fish with water spurting from their mouths. There were tropical plants and flowers of the most exotic and unusual kind. There was also a pretty cobblestone bridge over a small pond where ducks were quacking and waddling away. There was a carousel with magnificently sculpted and painted horses. It was a work of art. Cart vendors were everywhere, selling ice cream, sandwiches, toys, balloons, cotton candy and so much more. It was a magical place, full of life and laughter and joy. There were children playing everywhere. There were many mothers like myself with their babies and there were couples taking peaceful, romantic walks. I felt so happy every time I came here. I could not wait to share all of this with Tany.
We had been writing to each other everyday and whenever the mailman arrived my heart would start racing. As soon as we received each others' letters we would answer them immediately. We lived for those letters and for the moment of when we would be together again. I wanted to tell him over and over how much I loved him and missed him and to ask how long he thought it would be before we would be together again. His letters were full of questions, concerns and love. He wanted to know every detail about his little princess. He said he missed her tremendously. He wanted to know what she was eating, and how much she weighed, and what new things she was doing. In his letter he wrote that he would do everything possible to be with us before Christmas.
As the days went by, Laura made each one a joyous event. Whenever I took her out, people stopped to admire her. I was the proudest mother ever. It was already the middle of October and Laura was now five months old. Her grandmother and I took her for a check-up at her new pediatrician. The doctor said she was very healthy and growing perfectly fine. He said the blood test showed a little deficiency in calcium. We reviewed her diet. He recommended giving her extra calcium and letting her get some sun, especially early in the day, and he would repeat the blood test at the next visit.
Excerpted from Tears of My Angel by Benedetta Lino Copyright © 2012 by Benedetta Lino. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I just finished reading this very inspirational memoir. The message of love and hope are so strong. I highly reccomend this book to anyone going through hard time in their life.