Monday, April 28, 2014

Feeling Sorry For Yourself?

Next time you throw a pity party for yourself think about Tyler Liebegott, a twenty-one year old college student who was born with mitochondrial disease for which no cure exists.  I'm no doctor but from what I gather Tyler's illness robs him of energy typically derived from food and oxygen.  He has survived four strokes and has undergone 38 surgeries in his lifetime.  He lives with constant pain and has been on death's doorstep multiple times.

The life expectancy for mitochondrial sufferers is about 10 years, but most succumb much sooner. So why even bother to make something of yourself, right?  Wrong, at least as far as this young man is concerned.
Tyler spends his time away from his studies in biological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg, PA, speaking to high school students about his condition and how it propels him to move forward despite its debilitating symptoms.  He mentors children afflicted with mitochondria as well.

One might be led to think that Tyler only lives for the moment.  You'd be wrong on that count, too.  This fellow dreams of being a doctor specializing in, you guessed it, the treatment of mitochondria. Tyler has no time for self-pity but instead sees everything in his life as opportunities to be cherished.

People like Tyler Liebegott give the rest of us mere humans pause for thought.  A headache, back pain, or a failing mark on a test send most spiraling into a deep funk.  Woe is me! I'm a good person so why is this happening?  Stop feeling sorry for yourself in such mundane matters. Nip it in the bud and find something positive to focus on.

When throwing a pity party for yourself, remember Tyler Liebegott, but don't be inclined to throw one for him either.  He can't be bothered with such self-indulgence because he's in the business of changing lives one person at a time.  He doesn't feel sorry for himself and he certainly isn't looking for your sympathy. He'd rather you learn more about mitochondrial disease and join him in the fight.

Tyler can be reached at

And for God's sake, stop feeling sorry for yourself!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Overrun By Youngins!

I'm on holiday in the Carolinas and am being overrun with short people.  Everywhere I turn height-challenged creatures are competing for my attention.  My five grandsons plus a neighborhood crew of eight girls and four more fellas are literally overtaking the adults.  What a blast they're having and I'm in seventh heaven. Seeing young people play together, cooperating at times, disagreeing more often than not, being downright mean in rare instances, reminds me of the world we live in.  By allowing these children to interact, enjoy each other's company, settle disputes, make amends, and then get on with their fun again and again is not only healthy for them but extremely beneficial to their overall development.

Let the children play!  More importantly, let them figure out their problems by making decisions on their own, no matter if what they decide is what we, the adults, would approve of or not.  Children need practice in handling what life throws at them when they are very young, in order to make right decisions as teenagers. Then perhaps tragic events such as Columbine and Sandy Hook will become less and less.

With our group, unless a child is in physical danger, adults are not permitted to intervene. That's my rule and everybody is obliged to conform to it at least while I'm here.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Last week a local woman walked her eldest son to the bus stop, kissed him good-bye, and upon returning home, ordered Luke, her three-year-old, and Daniel, her six-year-old, into the bathtub, submerged the two boys under water, and then fully-clothed, sat on them to make sure they couldn't get out.  Afterwards she called 911 to report that her children were unresponsive laying on the bathroom floor. Luke was dead when the paramedics arrived; Daniel was flown to the hospital in critical condition.  Five days later, having been placed on life support and declared brain-dead, Daniel died, too.


But as human beings who begin asking "why" practically from the time we slip out of the womb, I guess some explanation would help to settle our confused minds.  She told the arresting officers that the "crazy voices" she was hearing suggested she'd be a better mother to her firstborn son if the other two were out of the way.  By identifying the voices as "crazy" why would she then listen to and act upon them?  If she knew these taunts were illogical, why harm the children she loved?

As the investigation continued, the news reported that Laurel Michelle Schlemmer had tried to injure the same two boys before in another incident.  Though no charges were ever filed, it appeared that this mother accidentally ran over them with her car. In 2009, she left her toddler alone in the car while she went shopping.  When observing a small child seemingly by himself, a responsible person called the police who determined that the temperature inside the vehicle had risen to 112 degrees.  She was never held accountable in either situation.


It isn't my place to judge, and I don't.  Her husband and the church her family has attended for over a decade are supporting Michelle, as she is known by those closest to her, through prayer and fond memories. The only conclusion her pastor could offer is that Satan is indeed alive and working to infest the souls of good people even today.  Perhaps that is one way of looking at her horrible actions. Other professionals cite mental health issues which were never completely addressed.  Possibly severe depression and acute anxiety played a role in her decision to murder her boys. Perhaps somewhere in-between these assumptions, lies the answer to the question, "why."  But, for me, I still ask


I never met this family yet somehow in a strange way I feel strongly connected to them.  My heart goes out to Marc Schlemmer and his remaining son, Joshua.  How do they ever pick up the pieces of their severely fractured family?  Where do they go to escape the horrific notoriety pressed upon them through no fault of their own?  How do they reconnect with a wife and mother who murdered their son and brother?  And, most importantly, will they ever know "why" she did what she did?  I don't think so and perhaps they'll be much better off if they never have that question answered.