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Children's burials wait until mom gets stronger

Patricia Parra-Perez can make it down the hospital hall with the aid of a walker. She asks her boss about his work and carries on normal conversations.

For a person who was shot in the head, Parra-Perez continues to amaze her friends and family as she recovers.

But they still don't think she's quite ready for the burial of her two children.

The funerals will be held "when she can emotionally handle it," her boss John Andrews said Friday at a press conference at his law firm, where Parra-Perez was a paralegal.

On Dec. 10, her ex-husband Robert O'Mara ambushed her and their children _ 12-year-old son Sean and 13-year-old daughter Lauren _ at their home, authorities said. He shot Parra-Perez in the head, killed both the children and then killed himself, authorities said.

Parra-Perez spent weeks in critical condition at St. Joseph's Hospital. But recently, she was transferred to Tampa General Hospital for several weeks of intense physical therapy.

TGH specializes in post-traumatic rehabilitation, Andrews said. There, she wakes at 7 a.m. every day to begin speech, occupational and physical therapy.

She has talked to close friends and relatives about her children, but Andrews has not had conversations with her about them. "I try to stay away from what happened," he said.

He would not elaborate on what she has asked or said about them to others. He said she does have some memories of that night.

Two bullet fragments remain lodged in Parra-Perez's head, and she has difficulty moving the fingers of her right hand. Next week, a team of medical professionals will meet to decide what type of long-term therapy and care she will need, Andrews said.

She makes physical and mental progress daily, he said.

While there have been discussions about funerals for her children, whose bodies are still at the medical examiner's office, nothing will be done until Andrews and the doctors think she can handle it emotionally, he said. In the meantime, he asked people to keep praying for her.

"She asked me to thank . . . everyone praying for her," Andrews said.

A trust fund to help pay for the funerals and for Parra-Perez's rehabilitation has reached between $18,000 to $20,000, Andrews said.

HOW TO HELP

TRUST FUND: Checks can be made out to the Patricia Parra-Perez Trust Fund and mailed to the Andrews Law Group at 3220 Henderson Blvd., Tampa, FL 33609. They will be deposited in an account at the Bank of Tampa.

CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT: 12:30 p.m. Jan. 28, Heritage Harbor Golf & Country Club, where Patricia Parra-Perez used to live. Group of four is $500. Proceeds go to the Patricia Parra-Perez Trust Fund. Call general manager Dave Crawford at (813) 949-6841 or visit www.heritageharborgolf.com.

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