FROM READERS: Mom was 'entrusted with an angel'

Friday, June 20, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Pam Windsor took care of her son, Tony Spangler, full time. He died on May 26 at age 10. Today would have been Tony's 11th birthday.

All moms know the joyous feelings you have when you first learn you're pregnant, your first ultrasound, the day you give birth and hold your miracle for the first time.

My first experience at motherhood was at a very young age, but a beautiful and normal experience just the same.

My second time around, however, was very different. Tony was born at 35 weeks, and from that day forward, my life would never be the same. His fight started at day one and continued up until the end.

He spent the first 17 days of his life in the hospital, but at that point we still had hope he would thrive. After four months of crying and being unable to calm him, we were told (after another 14 days in the hospital), that he had cerebral palsy.

All I remember is bolting out of the room and crying for hours. Thinking to myself "What did I do wrong? Why is this happening? What can I do, what am I GOING to do?!" Well, you're a mom and you do what moms do. You suck it up and take it one day at a time.

He didn't sleep through the night until after he turned two. We wore out several rocking chairs, my Angel and I. He suffered through cataract surgeries before he turned 1. There were 6 of those. He struggled with epilepsy, with sometimes up to 100 seizures a day.

He couldn't walk or talk, or even sit on his own, but he could laugh! And it melted the hearts of everyone around him! How amazing is this kid of mine?! Fighting every day just to breathe, to move, even to eat.

A doctor once told me that every day for Tony was as taxing on his body as someone running a marathon. And he did it, every day. What an inspiration he was to me.

Because of him, I've learned so much, and the most important thing is to never miss a moment, never take a smile for granted, cherish each and every one. I learned how to be a nurse, an advocate, an inventor — all skills I wouldn't have learned without my Angel.

I met the best doctors, nurses, and therapists, and he touched them all with his strength, his perseverance, and his laughter.

My baby fought for 10 years, 11 months and 6 days, and as heart wrenching as it is for those of us that love him so much, he is now free to spread his wings and fly, the Angel I was entrusted with. I love you Tony Maroni, Happy Birthday, son!

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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