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Cline and Velma Meredith: Grandparents struggling after cancer, job loss

Heather Osbourne
Austin American-Statesman
From left, Anthony Salazar, 17, Cline Meredith, Velma Meredith and Aiden Salazar, 14,  sit on the metal swing that Cline made years ago.

Cline and Velma Meredith have had quite the unconventional life.

The couple fell in love sometime between their first summer fishing trip together and that year’s winter hunting season some 20 years ago, although neither can really remember exactly what year it happened.

They were best friends first, that they know for sure. And as the years passed and friendship turned into romance neither bothered to bring up marriage because, if you ask Cline Meredith, “Why fix what isn’t broken?”

It was in 2016, though, when something did break. Velma rushed to the courthouse and called Cline over the phone and that’s how they got married.

Cline Meredith was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer, and Velma was determined to get her best friend added to her health insurance, fast.

Cline and Velma were now officially “The Merediths,” but they were not just a party of two. Velma’s daughter from a previous marriage gave them two beautiful grandsons — 17-year-old Anthony Salazar and 14-year-old Aiden Salazar — whom they adopted as their own when the boys were just toddlers.

The boys affectionately call Cline their “superhero” even as he’s lost much of his physical strength.

Cline Meredith, now 67, has battled persistent pneumonia and other illnesses from continued cancer treatment. In March, though, things got much worse.

As Austin began shutting down because of the pandemic, he had surgery to remove a brain tumor after the cancer metastasized. Velma Meredith, 63, was laid off from her job at the same time. She couldn’t really find another because she was now her husband's full-time caretaker.

Now, the Meredith family is struggling to make ends meet.

He is currently sleeping on a second-hand sofa with springs that immediately poke you in the backside when you sit down. The state of the couch further irritates the open, infected wound where the incision from his brain surgery refuses to heal.

The boys moved to online schooling so they don’t get their PawPaw sick during the coronavirus pandemic, but don’t have laptops that work well enough to get them through the day.

Velma Meredith worries about how she will pay the mortgage in the coming months on top of medical bills and credit card debt from a broken air conditioner that needed to be fixed. Cline Meredith receives Social Security checks, but Velma’s unemployment payments are set to run out soon.

Despite their current struggles, there was nothing but gratefulness coming from the family’s lips while gathered around the dinner table on a recent Friday.

Yes, they will admit that life right now is hard. However, they will quickly change the subject to praising the people who showed kindness to them in the past or make excuses why their 15-year-old mattresses and pillows can make it through another year.

They are family. They are together. They are happy. And although they don’t know if it’ll be days, weeks, or years that they will remain a party of four on this Earth, they are determined to make the most of every moment left.

The Meredith family's wishes:

Medical bill assistance; mortgage assistance; credit card debt assistance; grab bars for bathroom; bathroom tile repair; two laptops for the boys; college funds for the boys; car repairs including new tires for the truck; brake pads; oil change; LED lights; inland fishing trip for family; full body mirrors; shoe rack; H-E-B and Amazon gift cards; fan; humidifier; mini fridge; large sweatpants with pockets for Cline; for Anthony: iPad Air, soft blue blankets, ocean paintings, gift cards to Finish Line/Foot Locker; for Aiden: gift cards to American Eagle, Holister, Finish Line, Foot Locker, Marshalls, Microsoft XBox gift card, Beats headphones, cellphone, electric razor, blackout curtains, Evolution basketball.

Wish list available at Amazon.

Nominated by: Wonders & Worries, 9101 Burnet Road, Suite 205, Austin, TX 78758. 512-329-5757,

Its mission: Wonders & Worries provides free professional support to children and teens during a parent’s or caregiver’s serious illness.