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Jefferson Township woman loves being a mom, grandma

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Pat Zeletski of Jefferson Township is shown with her granddaughters, Abby, Becca and Devon.

From a young age, Pat Zeletski dreamed of becoming a mother.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mother,” she recalls.

Having raised three children with husband Andy, and now grandparents of six, the former Monongahela resident is enjoying being a mom to small children once again. The couple, who live in Jefferson Township, welcomed three of their grandchildren into their home and are helping to raise them along with their son, Steven.

A Ringgold High School and California University of Pennsylvania graduate, Steven Zeletski, 36, suffered health problems from a young age, when he was diagnosed with anemia at age seven, his mother explains. The severe anemia made it necessary for her son to receive intravenous iron throughout his childhood. He also suffered multiple bone fractures as a result of the condition.

His health was further affected when he was diagnosed with celiac disease, an affliction both his mother and sister Lori were also diagnosed with. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy.

Steven Zeletski's health problems got worse earlier this year, as several veins ruptured in his stomach.

“They couldn't get the bleeding to stop,” his mother explained.

Ultimately, he was sent to The Cleveland Clinic where the doctors removed his stomach this past August.

“The doctors at The Cleveland Clinic are phenomenal,” Pat Zeletski said.

Now recuperating at home with his parents and daughters, Steven Zeletski is doing well, his mother said.

“He has to eat smaller meals in frequent intervals, but is doing great,” she said. “His iron levels are increasing, as well.”

With a dual degree in elementary and special education, she said her son hopes to return to teaching one day, having loved his work with children.

During the medical ordeals over the years, her son began to rely on his parents to help with his three daughters, Rebecca (who will turn 5 on Friday), Abbigail, 9, and Devon, 11. The girls attend school in the Frazier School District. Rebecca is a pre-kindergarten student.

The girls began living with their grandparents a few years ago. Pat and Andy Zeletski formally adopted the girls on June 2.

Pat Zeletski said her life revolves around her family. She's a proud parent to two other grown children, Lori and Jaime. The couple cherish the opportunity to play such an important role in their grandchildren's lives, she said.

The family loves spending time together, attending church at Calvary United Presbyterian in Donora, and tending to the family's three pets – a chocolate Labrador Retriever and two guinea pigs.

Friday night in the Zeletski household is usually movie night.

“We have popcorn. The girls love it,” she said.

They've been busy baking Christmas cookies this past week. Rebecca enjoyed sampling during the process, the proud grandmother said with a laugh.

While the couple enjoy their roles as parents and grandparents, Pat Zeletski admits it's harder this time around. For Pat, who worked at Guttman Oil in lower Speers for 17 years, it was being a mother that was her true calling. Now retired as well, her husband was a coal miner for 30 years and feels he gets a second chance to witness the joys of child-rearing that he may have missed because of his long work hours.

Pat Zeletski admits she misses her hometown of Monongahela, where she lived for 50 years.

The couple will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary in April, but the family will all be sharing in the celebration of Steven's health this Christmas.

“All the kids come home for Christmas,” she said with a smile.

That's just the way she likes it.

Miranda Startare is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.