June 14, 2001
By Miriam Stawowy
HAMPTON - Her unsteady handwriting three years ago was a sign of what was to come. But back then, Theresa Moseley was unaware of the debilitating disease she would face. Instead, she was focused on writing a surprise letter to her little brother Tyrone -- then a high school freshman.
The words she wrote arrived in a plain, white envelope last week at her mother's home in Hampton, a week before her brother's graduation.
When Tyrone Robinson opened the mailbox, the puzzled 17-year-old Kecoughtan High School senior wondered why his sister would write a letter addressed from and to the same address.
"Dear Tyrone," the letter began. "The year is 2001 and you are about to enter college."
Tyrone looked at the letter's date: June 4, 1998. His sister made the prediction a year before she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a nerve disorder that can leave muscles weak, spastic or paralyzed.
"We had no idea at the time," Tyrone said. "Then a year later, she was in a wheelchair. She could hardly do anything at all."
She lost the ability to write. At one point, she got around by pulling herself across the floor.
The letters were part of Project 2001, which the city school system undertook in 1998 to honor the students who would earn diplomas in the first year of the new millennium.
Students' parents were asked to write letters about their hopes for the futures of their sons and daughters. The district's high schools kept the letters under lock and key and mailed 341 of them to students early this month.
The arrival of his sister's letter -- as well as one from his mother -- made Tyrone reflect on the challenges he and his family faced.
"I could have lost her," he said.
Although 14 years apart in age -- she's 32, he turns 18 this month -- Robinson and Moseley are close. He says she's like a second mother. She says he's like a son.
"She'd always look out for me, help me with anything," Tyrone said.
He remembers when is sister drove three hours from Maryland to attend his middle school award ceremony because his mom couldn't leave work that day.
The possibility that she could be bound to a wheelchair overwhelmed the family.
"It was devastating to my family and me, especially with me having a newborn baby," Moseley said.
In late 1999, after treatment and lots of prayer, Moseley slowly began to regain her mobility. She can walk by herself now and has regained the ability to write consistently.
Tyrone said his sister inspired him to never give up.
"She kept pushing and trying to do things for herself," he said. "She never lost her good sense of humor."
He also saw his mother's and sister's predictions for his future come true. They both said he'd be attending college this fall. After graduation Saturday, Robinson plans to major in English at Christopher Newport University. He wants to become a high school teacher.
"I'm so proud of him," said Mary Jane Robinson, Tyrone's mother. "Reading the letters again was so emotional. I saw a little tear in his eye, and that made me get more emotional. It inspired him to do that with his children when he gets married."
Miriam Stawowy can be rea-ched at 247-7854 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org***