*This was posted 2 years ago and since then, there have been some changes for the Hermans with the most notable change being the condition of Anthony's heart. There are no more medicines that doctors can prescribe and no more repairs that surgeons can make. Transplant is the only option.
What hasn't changed though is the love story between Kathleen and Ray or their unwavering dedication and devotion to their wonderful children. Here is their story:
It's not all that often that I feature folks other than my Engineer or Diva for MILM; however, sometimes it is the Madly-in-Loveness of others that inspires me.
I have written about Operina before and as her name would suggest, she is in fact, an opera singer as is Operino, her hubby. The Operinos full names should be more like
but I thought that might be too long. :)
Let me give you a little background on the Operinos:
In their first year of being married, her parents and last grandparent passed away. Looking back, they say that having that amount of stress on their new marriage prepared and girded them for what was to come.
They have never lived close to any family so they have had to work and lean on each other throughout their married life.
There are three sweet, intelligent, and talented Operininos that they dutifully raise - and they take this duty very seriously. They are a precious family.
Within the first hour of their son's life, he was diagnosed with Critical Aortic Valve Stenosis and after briefly meeting her son for the first time, she had to say farewell to husband and son as they were Care Flighted three states over.
Can you imagine the pain in Operino's heart as he had to choose whether to stay with his wife, whom he is so connected to and who had just had a C-Section or his newborn son who needed emergency surgery?
Can you imagine the pain in her heart at her husband leaving her side so soon after birth or seeing her new baby and only son through an infant carrier as he was being taken away?
Can you imagine having a heart that works so inefficiently that all you will ever know are blood thinners, and shots, and tests, and hospitals, and limits?
My heart breaks at the thought.
At 9 days old, their son had his first open heart surgery and now at age 8, he has averaged a surgery a year. I cannot imagine a life of doctors' appointments and nose bleeds and procedures and being on a first name basis with the staff at Children's Medical Center, but it is their life, so I don't have to imagine it; it's real.
They have every reason in the world to be bitter and downtroden but here's the amazing thing about the Operinos, they are two of the most positive people you will ever meet. It's like they channel the spirit of Pollyanna and her "Glad Game."
I am in constant awe of how Operina can say, "It could be worse." Operino and Operina are so thankful for everyday blessings.
They are thankful for every day.
They just celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary. A lot of couples without the strain of a chronically ill child and the financial burden that comes with it or family deaths or several moves due to changing jobs would fail long before anniversary number eighteen, but not the Operinos. They just get stronger.
When around them, they radiate love for each other and their family. He is so loving towards her and she is so respectful of him. They make all decisions together and always consider each other. You will never hear an ill word pass their lips about the other. They build each other up even when apart; that is love and commitment.
That's all well and good but they will be the first to tell you (and I will be the second) that it is their faith in God that keeps them together and solid. When all hope is lost and despair is all around, they have their roots firmly planted in their faith and they never lose sight of God's will being done.
Without that faith, it would be nearly impossible for them to spend weeks apart. She and their son live in the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas when the need arises. Often he stays behind, trying to keep some sense of stability and normalcy for their two girls at home. They say a house divided will not stand, I say it all depends on what that house is standing. Obviously in their case, they are of one faith, one mind, and one heart.
The Operinos never let an opportunity to bless others or to say how blessed they are go by. I have actually had to put a moratorium on her thank you notes (and y'all know I'm big on thank you notes) because she would thank me for every little thing. They never take anything for granted and are such gracious and grateful people.
This weekend, there is a fundraiser benefiting the Anthony Herman Fund. This fundraiser grew out of a lunch with some friends where the question was asked, "What could we do for the Hermans (Operinos)?" After getting some fantastic other folks on board, the Heart & Sole Sports Camp was created. I spoke with the Operinos after that luncheon and told them what had been discussed and their initial reaction was, "But there are so many other people who need help. Is there any way to include them?"
Selfless- that's what they are, with a heart for their community.
So instead of the "Anthony Herman We Love You Sports Camp" we have the Heart & Sole Sports Camp which leaves scope for benefiting other local children with heart issues in the future.
Like Engineer and I, the Operinos feel the best gift they could possibly give to their children is a strong marriage and their children are very gifted indeed.
If you would like to find out more about the Operinos, here is a link to one of Operina's posts. On top of being a wonderful wife, marvelous mother, fabulous friend, and superb singer, she is also an amazing authoress.
Here is a link to C.O.T.A. - in honor of Anthony Herman donation page or click the button on my sidebar if you feel led to donate to transplant related medical expenses.
This is part of Heavenly Homemakers GratiTuesday, Raising Homemakers Link-up and