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A Triumphant Detour

Racquel Sarah A. Castro


Copyright © 2017 Racquel Sarah A. Castro

Published by Racquel Sarah A. Castro at Smashwords

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Edited by Rix Forto

Cover Photo designed on CANVA

Table of Contents

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

About Racquel Sarah A. Castro

Other Books of Racquel Sarah A. Castro

Dedication

To God

To my family

To all the differently abled persons and their dedicated families.


Acknowledgements

I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to everyone who helped me with this book:

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you have been so generous. Thank you for the wisdom.

My family, you guys have always supported me in every endeavor. I love you. You are all my anchors.

Mina, Kuya Bong, Inay, Mommy, Mama, Daddy, Kuya Robin and Yeyet, thank you for the knowledge you shared!

Yeyet and Rix, thank you for reviewing my unedited manuscript!

Tin M., Kokai, Lang, Mark A., Omi, Cheska, and Chairman Sherwin, thank you for the dedication on preparing for the book launch!

Ma’am Des, thank you for the trust!

My officemates from GAD, PDAO, and Go Forward, you became my instant family and true friends. I thank God for all of you.


Chapter One - Two Minutes That Changed My Destiny

In the early morning of February 8, 1984, Mom went to her office in Los Baños, Laguna. She had to finish all her tasks before filing her maternity leave. I expected to see the world by the middle of February. But after lunch, Mom hurriedly went home because of on-and-off pain.

To the surprise of my grandmother, Inay, the time had come for my mother to deliver her firstborn child, the beautiful me. With God’s grace and guidance, I was delivered at around 8:30 p.m. by Dr. Vergara. She was my mom’s obstetrician-gynecologist and my pediatrician too. She did her best for Mom’s safe delivery. Tension came to them when I had not cried for two minutes after being born. Dr. Vergara gave her best to make me cry.

Those precious minutes changed my destiny . . . my life . . . and my future. But I thank God for those two minutes. Why? It is because it molded me to be stronger . . . hard working . . . and focused on my goals. It allowed me to be a better person. Those two minutes were the beginning of a triumphant detour. Since then, my life has been full of redirections, diversions, toward a productive, meaningful, and exciting journey. Instead of being just a normal kid, I would shine in my own little way through my differently abled self. If I could turn back time, I would choose the same path: a life with cerebral palsy. And I think God allowed it for me to be a light in this dark world through Jesus Christ. I may not be able to do everything, but I am living a life full of purpose and worth.

Being the first child, everyone was excited. I was a bundle of joy to my family. They gave me the name Racquel Sarah, derived from the Bible. I was so blessed to have Christian parents like Mom and Dad. I was given all the love I needed and the full attention of everyone.

I was barely a month old when the three of us, my parents and I, moved to Pacita Complex in San Pedro, Laguna. We lived there with Lolo Rex, Lola Eleng, and my dad’s sisters.

When I asked my mom and my grandma, they both agreed that I was really a crybaby. I loved to be rocked in people’s arms before I went to sleep. Yes, I was a spoiled brat for a time. From day 1, I experienced the joy of having all the toys and dresses given to me by the people who loved me. Well, that’s one of the perks of being the firstborn. You get to enjoy everything, and the family would ask you what you liked or wanted.

Because of my condition, Mom and I used to go back and forth from San Pedro to my grandparents’ place in San Pablo City, Laguna. Tatay, my grandfather, and Inay, together with our relatives, showered me with so much love and attention.

I was always in my walker because I couldn’t walk by myself. Someone in the family always had to be there to look out for me. That’s why I love my family so much—they didn’t give up on me. I experienced the much-needed unconditional love and attention that a family could give without being spoiled; they only gave me what I need. That’s where my happiness is nowadays. Small things… simple gestures of love . . . These are so important in the molding of a differently abled family member. It is all about love, acceptance, and discipline at the same time.

April 5, 1985 – After a year and four months, we welcomed another baby girl, my sister, Christine Grace, or Tin. I loved playing with her, according to Mom. Though I could not move like other kids did, I had so much fun playing with the baby.

The symptoms of my cerebral palsy started to show when I was little, merely two years old. I never crawled. My hands were closed into fists. But my family didn’t give up at all. They went to every therapist that they knew. They had to open my hands by uncurling my fingers gently. According to Inay, I was crying in pain, but they didn’t stop until I could give people a high five.

My shoulders were somewhat locked. I could raise my arms halfway. Mom said they had to gently raise my arms a couple of times just to make them move. Then my grandfather created a game where he lifts me up, holding my hands up high. According to Inay, I laughed with joy in my heart, not knowing that it would be the best game for a kid with cerebral palsy, as it was a type of therapy. Aside from that, Inay and Tatay were so patient that if they heard any news about a therapist, they always made sure to go with me. During that time, they could see me in pain but they never stopped, and they tried their very best in making my life easier.

In those hard times, I knew God prepared His grand plan for my life. I could feel His presence. He will make me physically fit in His time. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV), it is said, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Chapter Two - Improvised Bamboo Poles

1987 – My parents, who were both working, entrusted me to my Inay and Tatay, who gave me their full attention, time, and so much love. On Fridays, Mom and Dad spent time with me and gave their weekends to me and my sister. We were expecting another sibling by December, and we were so excited.

At three, everyone in the family had a share in training me, not giving up on me. Tatay, with the help of Mamay Dadong, improvised a pair of support bars from bamboo poles, much like a ballet barre. There, they trained me to walk. According to Inay, Tatay was focused in teaching me how to take my own steps.

December 5, 1987 – We welcomed my brother, Michael Dux. We were so excited to play with him. Unlike my siblings and other kids, I could not move as other toddlers do. My movements were limited for an ordinary child, but I was not insecure. I knew God was with me, plus I received all the love that my family gave. I gained so many friends, young and old. They helped me feel that I could do what they could. By God’s grace, I lived a normal life.

When I was a toddler, I got so frustrated that I could not play with other kids. I only watched them play from afar. I wanted so much to join them, so I had to take a step no matter what happened. I had to walk and run like other kids. I had to be there with them, playing joyfully with both feet on the ground. I pushed myself in any way I could to walk, even though I got swollen limbs, knees, and feet. I had to do this on my own, walking freely like a wild horse that escaped from a cage. In a way, I had to escape from the cage of myself—a cage that I didn’t choose to be in.

February 8, 1988 – One of the most memorable events in my life was when I had my first step without any assistance. The milestone was another blessing, for it happened when I celebrated my fourth birthday. I think it was God’s gift to my family to see me walk towards a brighter future. All of my loved ones joined our parents in celebration. Nanay (my great-grandmother), with her children—Tiya, Inay and Tatay (my grandparents), and Lolo Daddy and his partner, Mama Deling, as well as my aunt, Mama Lelen and her husband, Papa Bernie (who were still boyfriend-girlfriend at the time) were all present.

Tatay gave me a very huge celebration as thanksgiving to the One who made all things possible: the Lord Jesus Christ. My heart shouted for joy because I could now play with my siblings and my friends.

I have an idyllic childhood. I did what the other children did, such as running, hopping, and the like. From marbles to different Filipino games like patintero, sikyo, and habulan, I played them all with my playmates and cousins. I never got any judgment during my early years; that’s why I was a little astonished when I got into the real world.

Mom and Dad, with my siblings, only visited me once in a while, but that did not hinder me from feeling the love of my parents. I remember that I always expected them to be with me on weekends. I looked forward to every weekend to spend quality time with my family.

I started going to school when I was four. I enrolled at San Francisco Day Care Center, where I learned how to read and write. I enjoyed counting more than anything. I was a consistent honor student and scholastically competitive. By God’s guidance, I showed them His goodness in my life. I could do what they could do because I had God with me.

May 1, 1988 – Mama Lelen, my mom’s sister and my aunt, got married to the man of her dreams, Papa Bernie. They asked me and my sister to be their flower girls. Yes, because of the fact that I could walk on my own by then, I was in the wedding entourage. From then on, I was recruited as a flower girl for most of the weddings in our extended family.

For two consecutive years, I studied and learned so much at that day care center. I had a good foundation, I guess. I received a gold medal, which was my first award for academic excellence. It was my first gift to all who loved me so dearly. And as usual, there was a memorable celebration.

My aunts on my father’s side—Tita Paz, Tita Cora, and Tita Tess—spoiled us with gifts from the U.S. and Greece. Tita Doris took care of me when I was with them, while Tita Luz took care of Christine and Dux. We were really blessed that both sides of our family showered us with all the love we could get. We also bonded with our cousins during vacations.

Every Christmas, the family gathered for Noche Buena, and I would see gifts from Tatay. From plastic bags of candies to money, we all received gifts from other family members. We expected to enjoy Filipino Noche Buena food such as leche flan, ube halaya, and other sweets. We also have the tradition of visiting our relatives to get pamasko (Christmas gifts and favors).

Every summer, the family had swimming getaway, which I didn’t enjoy at all. I used to hang out with the older members of my family because I could only swim if I had a floatie. Talking to the elders made me mature in a way.

Chapter Three - Happy Hellos and a Painful Good-Bye

I remember when I celebrated my fifth birthday. Tatay arranged a mini-fiesta for me at our home. I didn’t know it was the last party he would throw for me. They prepared parlor games and other kiddie stuff. I really enjoyed it.

In 1988, Mom had to rush to the hospital and ended up staying there for surgery. She was currently pregnant with my second sister. Mom had gallbladder stones that were giving her a hard time. She endured the pain to ensure that the baby was safe. Months later, although in pain, she delivered a beautiful baby girl, Kristel Mariz, nicknamed Ken. It was the twenty-sixth day of February 1989.

The operation to remove Mom’s gallbladder stones was successful too. Tatay had so much joy taking care of my new baby sister. I was five years old when they decided to enroll me in Escuela de Valle Verde. It was near our home. There were only a few students, for the school had just started operating. I was in the preparatory class. I met friends like Aylla, Joey, Kathy, Mico, Shaney, Vernadette, and RJ.

I remember in my early days at the school, someone shouted at me, “Pilay!” Cripple! He repeated it several times. I immediately responded, “A cripple has a wheelchair. Am I in the wheelchair?” He shook his head, and I walked away from him. The outpouring wisdom from God made me respond well to all the world’s judgments.

Though I face persecutions every now and then, I thank the Lord for them. Probably, you might be thinking, “What’s with Racquel that she thanks God for persecutions?” I thank God every day for judgment, as it fuels me to be the best that I can be. I take it as a challenge, so when these people get to know me, they would be eating every word of their judging statements. I don’t know if I am weird or something. But judgments make me strive to be better. You would probably look at me and ask, “What’s with this lady?” or “What is she up to?” Try to ask me when you see me, I will tell you why. One of the few reasons for my courage is that I believe that God has put me in this situation because He has a plan for you. He wants you to know Him through me. My life wouldn’t be the same without cerebral palsy. Without it, you would probably see me in bed, without any purpose. But I am here writing these things about my life. Sharing pieces of my puzzle with you is such a nice thing, you know. You get to know me and be inspired with my life.

I am so grateful to all my teachers who showed great interest, patience, and love to teach me. Although I cannot do extracurricular activities because of my physical limitations, I concentrated on my academics, which showed my other talents and qualities.

One of my fondest memories of my grandfather was that every time he was in town, he would give me a plastic bag full of sweets. Though I never caught him, I think he was our Santa Claus because Santa knew my favorite, Jellyace, those tiny jelly cups. If you are a kid of the eighties and nineties, you would definitely recognize my favorite snacks, such as Sweet Corn, Pompoms, Bazooka bubble gum, Chocolate Mallows, Iced Gem Biscuits, Chocolait, and waffles.

Unfortunately, before I got my certificate in preparatory, August 29, 1989, to be exact, my dear tatay passed away. My last memory of him was this: Someone was holding me that time. This person was saying, “Say good-bye to Tatay.” While looking at him in the casket, I never thought he was dead. I thought he was just sleeping and would hug me again when he woke up. He died of a heart attack. I know he is with God in heaven. I cherish all the memories we had with Tatay. I will remember the love, candies, and support he had given me. I remember Tatay’s laughter when I was jealous of him hugging Inay.

I stayed with my inay in our home in San Francisco Calihan to lessen her sorrow. As she was dealing with her grief, I was there to be her source of happiness. With her sister, Tiya, and her mom, Nanay, we were all hugging and caring for her towards recovery. Inay then started her business.

After a year of hard work, I received a medal for academic excellence. One of the most memorable events in my life was when I graduated with honors from my preparatory class. I saw my loved ones cry as I reached another milestone in my life; their tears were because of gladness. I couldn’t believe I was on my way to my elementary years. Remember this: Physical limitations cannot be a hindrance to success. With the help of family and true friends, it can happen—step by step and with no shortcuts.

April 1991 – I was enrolled in Grade 1 at Escuela de Valle Verde. This was when I began my goal of finishing my studies. I was so excited about the school supplies sponsored by Mama Lelen and Papa Bernie, while Mom and Dad shouldered my tuition fees. They shared the expenses for my education. My aunts from my father’s side made sure I had a gift from them on my recognition days.

September 4, 1991 – We welcomed another brother, our bunso (youngest child), Paul Silas, also known as Pipo. We were so excited that we could play with him soon.

In terms of studying, I was positive that I started right. Surely, I was focused. I spent most of my life in Escuela de Valle Verde. I learned to communicate with all my schoolmates; I even gained friends. I think our curriculum was very advanced. We had teachers that gave me support. I considered them partners in all the things I’d learned. God had showered me with the gifts of wisdom and knowledge.

When I was little, I dreamt of becoming an accountant, probably because my mom took accounting, plus my aunt was an accountant too. Becoming a leading lady on TV was one of my childhood dreams; yes! I know it was crazy. I daydreamed that I would be the leading lady or just a sister of Aga Muhlach in a show. Yes, he was my childhood crush. Who’s never dreamt of holding hands with him? Well, I remember when I heard that he has a child. I turned my eyes on his son, Igi Boy. Yeah, I am that smart, diverting my attention to his son. I dreamt of becoming a journalist too. I had so many ambitions, but my main goal remained: to finish my studies and become productive.

1992 – My Dad had to go to Dubai, UAE, for greener pastures and for his missionary calling. He pursued God’s calling of becoming a church tentmaker and a professional electrical engineer at the same time. I received letters and birthday cards from him and sent him my own letters. That was where I practiced writing in English and Tagalog.

I used to be part of a dance troupe, for my teachers trained me to be with the fully abled kids. I was encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities. But in Grade 3, I began to notice how different I was from my peers. I can still remember, when we were practicing a dance number, a student laughed at me and said, “Are you really going to dance?” That was when I stopped participating in extracurricular activities—to lessen the pain caused by judgments.

Bullies are everywhere. I got the chance of meeting them in person. That’s life. I faced them by crying, but they didn’t stop there. They continued until the bell rang at school; I saw them laughing like ugly, ruthless hyenas. But I didn’t give up and just smiled with a few friends who were so concerned about me.

I advanced one level year after year. I was excelling because I knew God was helping me. I competed with my classmates and landed on the list of top 10 students. By God’s guidance, I was a consistent honor student and was awarded per quarter.

During summer vacations, my playmates and I spent time in an abandoned space near our house in San Pablo City. I had a happy childhood. I played with my cousins, my siblings, and our neighbors daily. Playing sikyo, patintero, holen, and other Filipino games, we enjoyed ourselves. I used to visit our house in Biñan once in a while to spend time with my siblings, my cousins, and our friends.

I also remember always going to Tiya’s sewing machine station to get some money from her. I spent it for snacks. She was a dressmaker and a baker rolled into one. I enjoyed being with her when they were making wedding cakes and wedding dresses.

I usually spent time with my great-grandmother, Nanay. I remember her always massaging my nose to try to make it pointed. I am also reminded of her laughter. She was blind, but she knew how to navigate the house. She always cleaned it.

What I really enjoyed was her stories. She told us tales of the Japanese era in the Philippines; we got a different view of history through her. She also narrated how they’d been during the war.

My grandmother started to go to the market for business. She had this idea of bringing products to market people and stall owners. From T-shirts to appliances, she sold these items and instructed her customers to pay on a daily basis. She gained the respect of all the vendors and neighbors too.

Let me introduce my relatives on the father side. Lola Eleng is my dad’s aunt; her husband is Lolo Rex. Tita Doris, Tita Paz, Tita Tess, Tita Luz, and Tita Cora are my beautiful aunts—my father’s sisters.

What gives me enough strength until now is the real love given to me by my parents, my Tatay, Inay, Lolo Rex, Lola Eleng, Mama and Papa, Tita Doris, Tita Paz, Tita Cora, Tita Tess, Tita Luz, Tiya, Nanay, Lolo Daddy, Mama Deling, my siblings, and all my relatives and friends. Although we were apart, I could feel their support, trust, and love.

I remember this deal that we had in the family: when we got on the honor roll, there would be special gifts from our parents, our aunts, our grandmothers, and Mama Lelen. Well, yearly, I got gifts from them. A reward system could be used to help push your limits into successes. I think it is a good thing.

In the fourth grade, my fascination with computers began; we were introduced to Lotus 123 that time. It was the equivalent of Microsoft Excel in those days. We also studied the basics of DOS. I never thought I would be like my male teacher, a computer geek.

When I was in grade 5, I remember being the star of my own dating game, organized by my classmates. It was their birthday present for me. I was about to choose my desired date when the bell rang.

I met my favorite teacher in grade 5. She is Ms. Ana Marie Cosico, also known as Teacher Ana. We spent time with her during weekends. That was the reason why we became close. She was like a mother to us.

I accepted Jesus Christ when I was in grade 6, on March 14, 1997. It was really a great experience for me.

When elementary graduation came, Dad was not here because he was working in Dubai. I felt so much love and joy as my family celebrated with me. When I heard the graduation march, I said to myself: I’ve reached another milestone in my life. I received two awards: a loyalty award and a medal for being third honorable mention. Mom assisted me, and every time I would be on stage, she was always there to give me a helping hand. I was so blessed to say: Yes! I made it! I saw my teary-eyed Inay, who was so proud of what I achieved. Through thick and thin, she was there to guide and protect me. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for never leaving me. I am sure he was there. I experienced His faithfulness to me and my family.


Chapter Four - High School and Teenage Life

The teenage years are some of the most exciting parts of one’s life. From physiological changes to emotional changes, they come in different packages. When I celebrated my thirteenth birthday, I noticed big changes in me. I began to be conscious of my looks, the way I talked and walked. I had new likes and dislikes. As I entered high school at Greenville Academy, which was located near Escuela de Valle Verde, I gained a new circle of friends, both girls and boys.

I began to focus on things that became a hobby. I collected colorful stationery and stickers because it was a trend that time to collect such things. Yes, I am a hoarder until now. That time, my friends and I enjoyed exchanging stationery. When we got a landline, my friends called for very long conversations, and it became my routine. We exchanged views on the latest talk of the town or movie heartthrobs. I also turned out to be choosier with what I was going to wear for certain occasions. I began to appreciate the things that I never imagined I would appreciate, such as love teams.

High school had been a memorable ride for me. I found my favorite subject, Trigonometry. I had a mentor, my uncle Kuya Bong. I learned techniques from him that made Mathematics easier for me. Even though at times I have this tendency to be a spoiled brat, I thank him for being so patient. I didn’t really eat when he was not around. He is my best friend, I guess. Kuya Bong’s brother, Kuya Don, however, influenced me to watch basketball because he was a part of the KODLY’s dream team with Kuya Bong, of course! (KODLY was the name of our place; this came from reading the word likod, or “back,” in reverse, as the area was at the back of the main road.) I didn’t really have difficulties in understanding lessons in classes such as Biology, Chemistry, and Geography. I even topped my Math classes.

I met several friends and even a few old friends. My barkada, or “group of friends,” consisted of Lovely, Verna, Mayie, Aylla, Krishna, and Archie. I remember Verna and Mayie influenced me to read pocketbooks, namely those by Precious Hearts Romances. We read them during our lunch breaks.

Bullies were everywhere in high school. I thank them for my strong personality. I cried, yes. But I do have a right to fight for myself. I was sensitive to sounds, and normally I had an overreaction when I heard those, which my classmates laughed about. I cried again but laughed at myself after crying. My classmates were consoling me while laughing.

I had this teacher. Every time he got angry, he would slap the teacher’s table, which made me overreact again and again. Our section, by the way, had the reputation for being hated by teachers, if you know what I mean.

My love for basketball began in high school, and I usually talked to boys about it, which made me one of the boys. My team was the San Miguel Beermen, coached by Jong Uchico, which had Olsen Racela, Danny Seigle, Danny Ildefonso, Freddie Abuda, and other great players.

As a typical teenager, I experienced having crushes and spent time daydreaming about what-ifs on the side. I thought that every infatuation was love. Was I a normal teenager? The idea of junior-senior prom wasn’t that exciting at all. It would only mean one thing: the lonely, loveless me. I have to admit that I am a geek until now.

Intramurals were not that fun either, though I enjoyed it in my third year. I was part of the chess team. There were only two of us, so I got silver. I laughed at myself for trying to get through that. Well, I gained a friend there.

In my fourth year, I met my best friend, Andrea Mella de Guzman. We became close. Well, up to now, we consider each other sisters. We shared crushes and we hung out so often, that my previous barkada had noticed. I had an unforgettable memory in my fourth year: I was betrayed by my best friend. I saw her mimicking my condition while laughing. She didn’t see me at all. When I got mad at her, she didn’t know that I saw her actions behind my back. We didn’t hang out for months until I forgave her; I even said I was sorry for ignoring her. By the way, some of my friends were on her side, making me feel left out. I put down my pride; now we are friends, but not that close though. That’s not a teleserye. That’s real life there.

I finished high school with flying colors. I received two awards: the fifth honorable mention medal and a certificate of academic excellence. As usual, I had a celebration.

I had to leave San Pablo to spend more time with my family in Biñan. It was heartbreaking to pack my bags and leave my grandmothers behind: Inay, Nanay, and Tiya. But I had to choose. Seventeen years had passed with them by my side.

Chapter Five - College Days

I heard that someone suggested to my parents not to give me the chance to go to college. It was because they thought I wouldn’t be able to work after graduating. But my parents stood firm and gave me an opportunity to go to a famous computer college. I went to AMA Computer College (AMACC) in Biñan, Laguna.

When I first saw the AMACC-Biñan Campus, I felt excited. I took the entrance examination that day and qualified for an engineering course. But my mom suggested me to take either Computer Science or Information Technology. I chose Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. It certified me as a geek. I enrolled, and my journey began there.

May 2001 – Our batch was the first one to try the school’s trimester curriculum. The previous IT students didn’t have a thesis; they did feasibility studies instead. Our batch was the first to have the thesis requirement. My mom was my first friend in college. She had to be in jeans and a T-shirt just to blend in. I thank my mom for being there for my first three months in AMACC-Biñan. I had few acquaintances, such as Yhoyhien, Carl, and Marilen.

I met my college barkada in the second term of my first year. Ren, Candy, Jeng, Madel, Ralph, and Mai have stayed with me since then.

February 8, 2002 – I celebrated my eighteenth birthday with Nel Gragas as my escort. Nel was a dear friend. Everyone celebrated with me. My childhood friends, H.S. friends, college friends, and relatives from San Pablo and Pampanga celebrated another milestone in my life, the beginning of my journey as a young woman. I remember we enjoyed every moment of it. I received so much love from all of them.


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