FRANKFORT, Illinois, October 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A lingering, deep cough and flu-like symptoms were the harbinger of devastating news for Jim Littleton, age 53, who two years ago was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.
While Jim is known by some as the founder and president of a small insurance adjusting company just outside of Chicago, Littleton Claims Service, he is best known as a Catholic father of 14 children — aged 5 to 25 — and as an man of deep faith and outspoken Catholic conviction. He says his main concern is raising his children with the help of his wife Kathleen in the ways of Christ.
“We have been truly blessed. Our children are a gift from God, and with that gift comes a great responsibility,” said Jim and Kathleen Littleton, who have 12 daughters and 2 sons, with another five children lost to miscarriages.
“To those to whom God has given much, much will be asked of.”
The living children are Shannon, Tara, Grace, Colleen, Deirdre, Bridget, Shane, Fiona, Maura, Clare, Patrick, Mairead, Brighde, and Shealagh.
While Jim and Kathleen in no way consider themselves “masters or prime examples” of family life, they nonetheless felt a “strong calling” a few years ago to share the “gift” of what they had learned through their family life in a book titled: “Better by the Dozen Plus Two: Anecdotes and a Philosophy of Life from a Family of Sixteen” (Lulu press, 2007).
“We try to live the things we preach the best we can, yet, we admit, dreadfully imperfectly,” they say.
The Littleton book begins by relating their use of the birth control pill at the start of their marriage — something that they now see as “gravely wrong” — and moves through the sorrows and joys of raising a large family in a world that they describe as largely anti-life and anti-family.
Through their daily living of family life, the Littletons say they hope in some way to contribute to the “authentic comeback of God and family as the centre of each person’s life and of society.”
The couple does not sugarcoat the trials of having a large family, but they say that they know from experience that the sorrows and crosses of family life do not have the final word.
“[T]hanks to God, we have been consoled by the reality of our crosses having a redemptive value,” they say. “In and of itself the cross would be worthless, a great loss, but the crosses and difficulties, crises, and disasters of our lives all have the capacity to bear much fruit, and culminate in our own growth and purification as well as in the overall redemption of mankind.”
The greatest cross the Littleton’s are now bearing is Jim’s illness, which has affected his ability to work and provide for his family. The extensive demands of his medical treatment as well as 6 hospitalizations have consumed his family’s resources. A rare chromosomal defect has now compounded the severity of Jim’s battle with his chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
Three months of intense chemotherapy in 2010 failed to improve Jim’s condition. Doctors advised him that an adult stem cell transplant, which was completed last January, was his only hope.
Since the transplant, Jim has experienced serious complications such as kidney failure and pneumonia in both lungs. He has lost much of his former body mass. He is tended to at home by his wife and children.
Doctors tell Jim that it could take more than a year for the new donor cells transplanted into his bone marrow to make a significant difference in eradicating his cancer. Meanwhile, Jim continues to travel to Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago for ongoing blood work, tests, and observation.
“What all is God asking of us?” ask Jim and Kathleen in their book, which was written prior to any knowledge of Jim’s cancer. “Will we be able to fulfill his plans for us?”
The answer to the second question, say Jim and Kathleen, is “yes,” they will be able to fulfill God’s plan for them, if they but “stay close to him!”
They say that this is their prayer every day: “Lord, give me the grace of perseverance and fidelity to the mission you have entrusted to me, that I don’t get in your way, and that you do with me what you will.”
Kathleen’s sister, Rose Dubina, told LifeSiteNews that the Littletons “put all their faith in God,” adding that the family is “very disciplined.” She said the family enjoys playing musical instruments together, Irish step-dancing, and drama.
“When they’re all together, it’s a big group. It’s pretty fun.”
A benefit is planned for the Littleton family this Sunday, with all proceeds going to support Jim’s family and to pay his medial expenses.
Family and friends of the Littletons who are organizing the event hope to raise $100,000.
Jim and Kathleen say they cannot help but “marvel” as they behold their children, and wonder why they have been “so especially blessed” with so many children.
All they can think in response is: “what an incredible gift and what an awesome responsibility!”
Help the Littleton family by visiting www.loveforlittletons.com.
Benefit: Sunday, October 16, 2-7 p.m., 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park, IL.
Tickets: $30/adult, $10/children 13 and younger. Ticket includes food, beverages, entertainment, silent auctions and raffles.
Donations can be sent to Archer Bank: Littleton Family Benefit, 3435 W. 111th St., Chicago, IL or via PayPal at www.loveforlittletons.com.
For more information, contact:
Ph: (443) 994-2183
E-mail: [email protected]