Mom waiting for daughter’s ashes
That's what Stephanie Tyson was doing as she saved for a dream trip to London.
Waiting as she put away what little she could from her monthly $450 disability check.
Waiting for the more than a year it took to save enough to travel, something she'd never been able to do before.
Tyson, 26, was born with Noonan syndrome, which left her with clubfeet and double curve scoliosis that required her to walk with a cane. The Jacksonville woman also had an enlarged heart and a rapid heartbeat.
But she was determined to see Stonehenge, the London Bridge and the Tower of London.
Finally, she had saved enough.
Tyson had a checkup a couple of days before she left and got the OK to travel. Then she said goodbye to her mother, Catherine McCoy, and headed off on her dream trip.
The two talked late on Dec. 6 when Tyson arrived at her friend's home in London.
The next call came Dec. 8.
It wasn't Tyson sharing the sights she had seen. It was news that she had died of congestive heart failure before she could celebrate her 27th birthday.
For McCoy, the shock of her daughter's death was quickly followed by a depressing reality. She didn't have the $3,100 it would take to have her daughter cremated and her ashes returned.
And she had no idea how she could get it.
Mark Treglio, director of public relations for the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, heard about the issue while he was delivering Christmas food to a television newsroom. The association committed to donate $500 and set up a fund for contributions.
Within a day, $3,160 had been raised. Donations came from as far away as Wisconsin and Canada, Treglio said. One donor gave $1,800.
Randy Wyse, president of the firefighters union, delivered the check to a surprised McCoy on Christmas Eve. "I think it gave her peace of mind to know she was going to get her daughter home and end this bad chapter in her life," he said.
McCoy was thrilled by the firefighters' help. "It was a great feeling that I was going to be able to get her home," she said. "I honestly didn't think it was going to happen."
She and her daughter shared so much in life, including both having Noonan syndrome. The condition led to the deaths of McCoy's other children when they were just babies.
"She'd always make you laugh," McCoy said of Tyson. "She could just cheer you up. She could find funny in anything, just about."
Though she's had the money since Christmas Eve, McCoy hasn't been able to finalize the details to get her daughter's ashes home.
The holidays delayed progress with the funeral home and the embassy. Pretty much everything was shut down until today, McCoy said.
For now, she's doing the only thing she can.