May 7, 2014
02:49 PM
Health & Wellness

For Connecticut Nurse and 'Miracle' Daughter, Mother's Day Has Gravity

For Connecticut Nurse and 'Miracle' Daughter, Mother's Day Has Gravity

Clare Keating.

This Mother’s Day, like the last dozen, will be more intense for Clare Keating—a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury—than it will for most other Connecticut mothers, and also for her daughter Alicia Townsend.

Townsend lives with Keating in a kind of in-law apartment and has a son, Liam, who is going on 3. “He’s an adorable little guy, very smart,” Keating says by phone. “She’s with him all the time and able to take of all of his needs.”

“He’s a blessing, he really is,” she adds. “She’s a wonderful mother. She’s very attentive. She’s always reading up on the best things to do.”

It sounds normal, like the status of lots of families—except that getting to this point for Keating and Townsend represents the result of a miracle of love, faith, family and, ultimately, hope overcoming tragedy.

It represents, as Keating indicates in the title of her new memoir, To Dance in the Rain, persevering in the face of adversity. The subtitle of the book, which Keating will discuss in a special event beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, in the Saint Mary’s Hospital Auditorium, is A Mother and Daughter’s Journey of Hope and Healing.

“Her memoir is a moving account of the unexpected and catastrophic events that left her 16-year-old daughter, Alicia Townsend, fighting for her life in February 2002,” when Townsend was a junior at Holy Cross High School in Waterbury, Saint Mary’s explains in announcing the book-signing and reception with Keating, which is free and open to the public. “An energetic and outgoing honor student and athlete, Townsend suffered a massive stroke as a complication of surgery to remove a cyst in her brain. In the book, Keating recounts this incredibly challenging time and her daughter’s remarkable recovery. Their story is truly one of hope and offers inspiration for anyone who is facing the impossible.”

Keating’s overarching message: “Never give up.”

“Believing that miracles were possible, no matter how small, opened our eyes to the possibilities and brought us the strength to persevere,” Keating writes. “The support and encouragement we were given allowed us to pass hope on to Alicia.”

“As a parent, I think you’re faced with a lot of challenges and we were faced with a unique challenge,” Keating says on the phone. “Having the support of family and friends around us was very big, so we always celebrate families and friends and the loving support we get from other people.”

“We’re just very thankful for things the way they are,” she adds.

What that means is that while Townsend is able to care for Liam—whose name is a nod to the family’s proud Irish heritage—she does that and everything else very slowly, while struggling still with coordination issues and other limitations.

 “She’s not able to walk, so she’s in a wheelchair all the time,” says Keating. “We get her out to do different things.”

As Keating’s and Townsend’s journey of hope and healing continues, the presence of Liam is a bright spot and something of a miracle in itself. It wasn't at all certain Townsend would be able to carry a baby through to birth, Keating said, and there were enough complications that a neurosurgeon and neo-natal specialists were on call for the delivery.

Keating will offer more of the narrative at the Saint Mary’s event, to be held in the hospital auditorium, located on the second floor of the hospital’s Conference Center. It is free and open to the public.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase. Cash and checks will be accepted. Parking will be available in the Visitors Garage off Cole Street (across from St. Mary’s School). To RSVP, contact Jennifer Clement in the Saint Mary’s Hospital Marketing Department at 203-709-6240 or sign up via the hospital’s Facebook page.

A graduate of the Saint Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing, Keating began working in Saint Mary’s Critical Care Unit in 1982 and has been a nurse in the Emergency Department for 30 years.

The book was released by Ceitinn Press on May 4, which (not coincidentally) was Townsend’s birthday, and Saint Mary’s is among the first to help Keating celebrate the launch.

“Saint Mary’s has always been home for me and I am excited to share my work with my Saint Mary’s family and with the Waterbury community,” she wrote in a recent blog post.

 

For Connecticut Nurse and 'Miracle' Daughter, Mother's Day Has Gravity

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