Skip to comments.As Terri Schiavo turns 40 next week, her loved ones fight for her life
Posted on 11/27/2003 10:13:26 PM PST by msmagoo
As Terri Schiavo turns 40 next week, her loved ones fight for her life
By Maria Strinni Gill
Terri Schiavo will turn 40 next week, and her uncle, Michael Tammaro of Corning, wants her to get a lot of birthday cards.
Schiavo's story has garnered national media attention recently and an outpouring of support from around the world.
The Florida woman, severely disabled and barely able to communicate for 13 years, has been the subject of a legal dispute between her parents and her husband as to who should determine Terri's care and whether she should be allowed to die.
On Oct. 15, a court order allowed Michael Schiavo to have his wife's gastric feeding tube removed. The tube was the sole medical device keeping Terri alive.
Six days later, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush prompted the state Legislature to pass Terri's Law, which ordered the tube to be reinserted.
The timing of the family's request for support on Terri's Dec. 3 birthday is crucial.
Her court-appointed guardian is expected to recommend in early December whether Terri's gastric feeding tube should remain or be removed, allowing her to die.
Terri Schiavo is the daughter of Bob and Mary Lee Schindler of St. Petersburg Beach, Fla. Mary Lee Schindler is a 1959 graduate of the former Northside High School in Corning.
They have argued their daughter is not in a vegetative state and has never been allowed the rehabilitation and medical treatments that could improve her condition.
They and their son-in-law are embroiled in a bitter court battle over guardianship of Terri.
Tammaro said his family believes his niece has not received proper rehabilitation in a decade. Terri's husband would not allow it, he said.
"There's never been any real indication that Terri can come out of this because nothing's been done for her," Tammaro said. "There's so much that can be done ... She'll never be the Terri of old, but she can be helped."
There's a fair amount of speculation as to how Terri fell into a coma in the early morning hours of Feb. 25, 1990. Doctors have suggested a potassium deficiency led to her illness.
Tammaro said her medical records were sealed and her family has not been allowed to see them.
But information surfaced recently that Terri also had several broken bones when she collapsed and a criminal investigation is being conducted, Tammaro said.
Inconsistencies in Michael Schiavo's story lead them to believe Terri suffered some sort of abuse before her death.
"That's why it seems more and more there is a deep, dark secret that could come out if (Terri) ever got to a point where she could speak again," Tammaro said.
No charges have been filed.
While several doctors have classified Terri's condition as a persistent vegetative state, her family argues she does not meet Florida's criteria for that classification.
Today, Terri's eyes follow helium balloons as they drift across her room. She laughs at her father's corny old jokes. She puckers up for a kiss when her uncle visits.
"To report that there is nothing going on there is completely false," said Claudia Tammaro, Terri's aunt.
The outpouring of support expressed in thousands of letters and nearly a million hits on the Web site www.terrisfight.org has been a boost to Terri's spirit, her aunt said.
Early on, Terri showed signs of progress and she even attempted to speak. Without stimulation or rehabilitation of any kind, she has not progressed since.
Michael Schiavo is now engaged to another woman and has two children. He refuses to relinquish guardianship of Terri to the Schindler's, Tammaro said.
The family cannot simply sit back and let Terri die as her husband wishes, Michael Tammaro said. They cannot let go of her without trying to bring her back, he said.
"If over the last 10 years Terri was given rehab, therapy ... I think there could be some kind of satisfaction that they had tried to do something," Michael Tammaro said. "But she's never been given a chance. She's laid there, day after day, with no help of any kind."
Sunday, November 30 is Terri Schindler-Schiavo Day
Another request just came to my email, please give this wonderful lady in Florida a chance to put together a Birthday collage for Terri. Time is short, so please email a photo to add to the collage A.S.A.P.
Here we go.......it's PICTURE DAY!
I know that many of you are unable to physically attend Terri's birthday party.
So here is what I would like to do for you, and for Terri!
If you like, email me a picture of yourself with your family, your family pet, or whomever. Please NO birthday suit photos! :-)
Please do not EMAIL large photos.
I will then print your photos on photo paper and will create a framed group Fight4Terri photo collage of everyone together.
I will address the framed collage:
To Our Terri,
From, the World of Faces Who Love You!
I will present the framed collage to Terri's parents on Terri's birthday from all of you. They can then show Terri all the people who still remain strong in their Fight4Terri.
I know! I know! This is a hurried last minute request, and I do apologize. I just thought about this idea when I was counting sheep last night.
If you wish to participate, you must scan and send me your photos no later than Sunday 11/30.
I will need a day or two, to make this collage before the 3rd, on Terri's birthday.
Remember..I need lots of pics in order to make this collage...so please hurry!
Forward this request on to everyone!
Remember to smile pretty!
Also. any additional information on Larry King Live tonight?
By KELLEY BENHAM, Times Staff Writer
Careless Whisper was her favorite song. She rode horses. She saved birthday cards. She didn't go to prom.
Terri Schiavo: 13 years of questions and uncertainty
She was named Theresa Marie, after Saint Theresa of Avila, but they called her that only when they were mad, which was almost never.
She drew pictures of dogs and horses, Bambi and Thumper, and her Labrador puppy, Bucky.
She grew up in a four-bedroom colonial on a half acre in the suburbs of northeast Philadelphia.
Overweight most of her life, she would cry when she had to buy school clothes.
She loved to peel skin after a sunburn.
She could keep a secret.
Her eyes are brown.
She attended Our Lady of Good Counsel school, where short, stout Sister Idalea knew the best way to pull a kid's hair to make it hurt.
She loved a boy named V.J. Mandez, but he did not love her back.
She learned to drive in a Ford Country Squire station wagon.
She got cold easily. She kept a blanket on the bed even in summer.
She once ran into the house crying because she had run over a rabbit. No one could console her. Her father went outside, came back, and said she was mistaken, there was no dead rabbit in the road. When she finally calmed down and left the room, her dad said, "Man, she nailed it."
She drank nearly a gallon of iced tea a day.
She read Danielle Steele novels. In their defense, she would say, "They are not Harlequins."
She liked to drive her T-top Trans Am past construction sites. She liked blonds.
She slept with her back to the window, so if she was murdered in the night she would not see it coming.
She weighed 200 pounds when she graduated from Archbishop Wood High School.
On her first real date, with a guy named Michael Schiavo, her brother and his friend stood on the front lawn and cheered.
She met Michael her second semester at Bucks County Community College. He was a year older, a foot taller and blond. He was the first guy who ever noticed her.
She has her mother's bushy eyebrows.
At Christmas, she would sneak around the house trying to find where the presents were hidden. Her father set up a train around the tree.
They said grace before dinner and had roast beef on Sundays.
She wrote a letter to John Denver asking him to sing at her wedding. He never wrote back.
She was not a great cook. She made a banana cake with green bananas and laughed when everyone told her how horrible it was.
She clerked at Prudential Insurance in Pennsylvania and in Florida, but wanted a job with animals.
She always made someone else kill the roaches.
Michael proposed after five months of dating. Her parents thought they were too young.
She was married Nov. 10, 1984, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in front of about 250 guests. It was the wedding she had always wanted, except that she refused to wait for warmer weather so she could have a horse and carriage. The tuxedos were gray.
She collected Precious Moments figurines.
When her Christmas tree was crooked, she called her dad for help. He told her to go buy a tree straightener. She called all over looking for one.
Before college she lost more than 50 pounds on a NutriSystem diet.
When she was about 7, her brother Bobby threw a brick at her head and made her cry.
Bobby locked her in a suitcase once and couldn't get her out. He ran for their mom while the suitcase jumped up and down, screaming.
She drove 30 minutes out of her way five days a week to visit her grandmother in a nursing home.
Her friends teased her that at the beach she was always the one the sea gull pooped on. "Don't lie next to me," they would say.
She worked at a dry cleaner in high school.
The movie Jaws made her cry. She was terrified of the ocean for the rest of her life.
Her gerbils were always getting loose and winding up in the air conditioning unit in the basement.
She was born Dec. 3, 1963, the first child of Robert and Mary Schindler. Robert was a salesman, mostly. Mary stayed home with Terri, and then Bobby and Suzanne.
On Saturdays, she went to Mass with her mother.
She was not strong and would not work out.
She bought her brother Bobby his first Bruce Springsteen record, Darkness on the Edge of Town, in 1978. He's been a fanatic ever since.
She always wanted to be a veterinarian and wrote TV zookeeper Joan Embry for advice. Embry said to finish college.
An average student, she dropped out of junior college.
She saw doctors for a benign lump in her breast, a wart on her toe and dizzy spells.
As a child she would spend hours in her room arranging her stuffed animals.
She loved Wham!
When Bucky the Labrador collapsed, she performed mouth-to-nose resuscitation on him. He died in her arms.
She and Michael lived in her parents' basement in Pennsylvania, then in a condo her parents owned in Florida. They paid rent, $400 a month, when they could.
She saw An Officer and a Gentleman four times in one day.
She quit using birth control in 1989 but did not get pregnant.
She is allergic to Benadryl.
She had an intolerance to salad and dairy products.
The night before her wedding, her father sat on the floor of her bedroom and watched her sleep. He was crying. She knew he was there, but never told him.
She loved the TV show Starsky and Hutch so much that she and her friend Sue Pickwell wrote hundreds of letters to Paul Michael Glaser. He, or his people, eventually wrote back.
At 26, she was 5 feet 4 and weighed 110 pounds. When she took off her shirt at night, Michael could see her bones.
She dyed her hair blond and bought a bikini.
She went to clubs with her brother because Michael worked nights. When guys hit on her, she would giggle, grab her brother and say, "I'm here with my boyfriend."
She had neat handwriting.
She had a good tan.
When she rode on the back of Bobby's motorcycle, she held on so tight she left marks on his skin.
Early on Feb. 25, 1990, she collapsed on the floor in the hallway outside her bedroom, gasping.
- Information for this story came from interviews with Terri Schiavo's brother, Bob Schindler Jr., and her childhood friend Diane Meyer, and from court transcripts, Newsday and the Associated Press.
But this line: The night before her wedding, her father sat on the floor of her bedroom and watched her sleep. He was crying. She knew he was there, but never told him.
Just made my heart break....