Summarized by Eileen Bell
Profile of LDS Woman Shows Her Courage
(Mother Courage: Concord woman cares for her own large brood -- and the kids at Ygnacio Valley High)
San Francisco Chronicle pg1 12May00 P2
By Peggy Spear
CONCORD, CALIFORNIA -- This article is the moving story of Concord,
California, special education assistant Pat Parscal. A busy mom of
five children and grandmother of 14, Sister Parscal began working at
Ygnacio Valley High School ten years ago.
A convert to the LDS Church at 14, Sister Parscal has lived in Concord
for 51 of her 62 years. "I was an army brat, with alcoholic parents. I
knew what I wanted for my family, and it wasn't the life I grew up with. So
I've made one that I think is pretty special. My kids at school can't
fathom that I still live in the same place and have been married to
the same man for all this time."
As her youngest child was getting ready to graduate in 1989, Sister
Parscal was in school herself, hoping to get her teaching credentials.
After a health class on breast self-examination, she decided to
practise the technique... and found a lump on one of her breasts. She
was diagnosed with cancer and had a mastectomy four days later.
She went through several rounds of chemotherapy, as she also took
care of her husband Bill who suffers from diabetes and who has had
several strokes. "With the cancer and Bill's illnesses, I couldn't get
my credential, but I knew we needed good health benefits. So I took
a job as a special education assistant." She has become a favourite
in the high school, earning the top teen compliment of being "cool"
from her kids. "In special education, you need to give these kids
special skills - - you really have to let them know you care; you have
to be a mother to them."
Co-worker Mitzi Merek teaches the Special Education class that
Sister Parscal assists. She says her assistant makes all the difference.
"She's a goddess, simple as that. In special ed, you need a partner
who can almost know what you are thinking. Pat's like that. She always
knows what needs to be done."
Sister Parscal credits her membership in the Church for the balance
in her life. "It is my social life, my outlet and my classroom." Her
children are active in the Church, and raising her grandchildren
in the faith. "And I just hope it gives them the security and sense
of family that it has given me over the past 50 years."