I would not say that life has ever been particularly easy for Thiry. Much of her life she has had to fight for what she has. I think she probably came out of the womb fighting....as she was the youngest girl of 12 kids.....six of those kids being brothers. Thiry has always lived by her own rules (good, bad or indifferent) and this too has caused her to struggle from time to time.
A couple of years ago, after being laid off from aircraft for the second time...Thiry decided enough was enough. Still having two of her five kids left to raise and knowing that a second income was probably always going to be a necessity in their home....she decided that it was time she finish her degree and figure out just what she wanted to be when she grew up. After playing with ideas from psychology to radiology.....she finally hit upon the OTA (occupational therapy assistant) program at one of our local universities. It had a time line she could live with and semi-fit into the education program that her lay-off package would help her to pay for. (That too turned out to be a struggle which turned into a fight.....which Thiry ultimately won.)
From the moment she headed down this path, there was constant schooling. Thiry's summers (which she has always lived for) were no longer her own. Suddenly schoolwork and studying were a seven day a week challenge for her. While working her way through the program learning muscles, bones, manipulations and various other facts about what OTA is and who OTA"s help.....her mother went into the hospital for heart surgery. This surgery was to both repair and replace heart valves which it was felt were the culprit of her not feeling well and having no energy. Ruth (Thiry's mother) had been living with Parkinson's for several years.....but they felt this surgery was the key to her feeling better and having a much better quality of life. Again...there would be unforseen struggles.
After Ruth's surgery....nothing was ever really right again. Over the next six months....her health went down hill and between hospital stays, attempts at taking her home and rehabs.....Thiry and her sisters and brothers were kept busy almost around the clock. Still Thiry never let her studies slide and was even able to use some of the OT techniques she had learned to help in her mothers recovery. At the end of her fall semester in 2010....Thiry's world was rocked when she lost her beloved mother.....but as is always the case when we lose someone we love, the world around her did not stop for her to have time to fully grieve. And being in the OTA program....they could only afford her a few days as semester testing was thrown in amongst the holidays. Thiry persevered and only God Himself knows how she survived that period in her life and still made excellent grades.
The spring semester of 2011 was Thiry's last of the OTA program and also her toughest. Her family resigned themselves to only seeing Thiry in brief moments as her world was all about the studying. The end was insight....but again....not without struggle. Her friends such as myself had grown accustomed to hearing from her only on rare occasions and seeing her simply just did not happen. Everyone though knew that soon it would be over. Soon it would all be worth it.
That time came this last week. Thiry finished up her last class. She came through all her finals with flying colors and this weekend she was pinned in a ceremony as an official OTA. I know Thiry is so relieved and so ready to be out of school and that her family is so glad to have her back full time. And me....well I am so proud of Thiry. I have watched her grow over the years from a young girl who had no idea what she wanted out of life....to a woman who is a phenomenal wife and mother and over the course of the years has taken on all that life has thrown at her with both grace and an attitude that have served her well.
I am especially proud of Thiry because of the career path she has chosen. David (my youngest) has needed occupational therapy since he was born, and it is very likely that an OT or an OTA will be a part of his life forever. Because of this therapy and the therapists and therapy assistants that he has had, he has been able to become independent despite his disabilities. And because of this crucial therapy.....these therapist give people back their independence everyday whether it has been lost through disease, illness or accident. It is an amazing field and one where I know Thiry will make a difference in peoples lives for years to come.
So I am all about giving credit where credit is due and when it happens to be due to one of my very best friends.....well then I feel it should be shouted from the rooftops. Thiry....maybe I don't say it enough....and I am sure you don't hear it enough, but you are an amazing woman. You have accomplished so much and I am so incredibly proud of what you have achieved. More over....I am incredibly proud to call you friend.
And on that note....I leave you with one of Thiry's guilty pleasures of the 1980's. Here is Kenny Loggins and Footloose! Have a great Monday!