By Dave Taylor
That a pandemic would threaten to cancel the graduation ceremony for the first set of triplets to graduate from Hancock County High School in recent memory is fitting; it’s a dramatic milestone in a trio of lives that began under even greater drama 18 years ago.
Jason and Angie Curry are well aware of the irony that one of the most important days for their triplets Morgan, Taylor and Trey, is overshadowed by worldwide tragedy, a suitable bookend to an early doctor’s visit on of all days, September 11, 2001.
“I was in the doctor’s office that day when that happened,” said Angie Curry.
She was there to see a specialist about her pregnancy with triplets and had heard on the radio that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers in New York City. Then she was hit with her own bad news.
“The doctor told her that it was high risk having triplets, it wasn’t a good idea,” said Jason Curry. “He recommended that we pick Baby A, Baby B or Baby C and abort one of the babies… Keep two and get rid of one.”
It would be safer having just two, the couple was told, and although the two boys and one girl were growing at the same rate, there were risks of potential health problems for the babies and for Angie, so they’d be better off picking one to die.
“I didn’t go back to that doctor, needless to say,” she said.
“We thought we’d let it play out like it should,” he said.
The triplets were born in February 2002, all around five pounds, all premature at 34.5 weeks, but essentially healthy.
Now, 18 years later, they’re graduating in the midst of a pandemic.
It’s just one more surprise change in a life of surprise changes for the couple, who’d had one child, Maddie, with fertility treatments, and continued the treatments months later hoping for another child.
“We expected just one this time and that’s of course not what happened,” he said. “We got our money’s worth.”
Their three-instead-of-one news caught them both off guard, but it hit them differently.
“I wasn’t excited at first, no,” he said. “She was out telling the neighbors and… I was just like holy cow, how in the world are we really going to do this?
“At that point in your life you’ve got a house, we had a Camry,” he said. “Then the house didn’t fit, we had to have three more baby beds, three more sets of clothes and we had to have a different car to hold four car seats. We had to have a van, or a bus… You think you’re in a good spot and suddenly everything changes.”
The couple lived in Evansville, Ind. at the time. Jason worked at Toyota and Angie had been staying at home since the birth of Maddie 18 months before. Things were about to get very busy at home.
They kept the babies on a schedule, feeding and putting them to bed at the same times each day, but it was a lot of work for one woman with two hands and three babies.
“Sometimes I would feed one, have one laying in my lap, one over here, and one on the floor with my foot, or just whatever I could find,” she said.
Doing things in threes and fours got more common but not necessarily more simple.
“Going anywhere with three babies is hard,” she said. “You know you have three babies in a car seat, what do you do with them? You only have two hands.”
The couple moved back to Hancock County in 2007 when Maddie was about to begin first grade and the triplets were beginning kindergarten, but things stayed fairly hectic.
“Even from first year preschool, they were all in different classrooms,” Angie said.
“We purposely separated them,” Jason said. “We thought that was important that they were individuals. They’re already tied together for the rest of their life, right? So when they went to school we wanted them to be in their own individual classes.”
That of course meant four sets of homework, four groups of friends, four sets of clubs, activities and sports.
“We always tried to support their interests, whether it was sports or cup stacking or whatever it was,” he said. “If that’s what they wanted to do we said all right, let’s do it.”
Early emphasis on individualism showed through later as the triplets grew up and grew into distinct personalities.
“I think that helped, but obviously as you get older you learn your different strengths and weaknesses…” said Angie. “Often Trey would play a sport because Taylor played a sport, where in the end it ended up Trey was the one playing basketball and Taylor was the one not as interested in sports.”
Now seniors at HCHS, all three were stuck at home together with older sister Maddie during the closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it turned out to be a good thing.
“You know they’ve had each other through the last couple of months,” Angie said, adding that they’ve played video games and watched movies and even played whiffle ball in the backyard.
“They’ve done lots of things like that together at home that other kids don’t have that to do, so that’s been helpful,” she said.
Now their graduation is postponed with an uncertain future, but Jason said he told the triplets to take the surprise change in stride.
“They’re disappointed that the school year didn’t get to continue and all that stuff,” he said. “But I said you know what? You’re going to have a class reunion 20 years from now and come back and this is what you guys are going to be known for. You’re going to talk about how this happened and how you were that class. It’s kind of a uniqueness that only you guys will have.”
Now the triplets and their sister are all set to go four different directions for their futures.
Trey, who was a Governor’s Scholar, is going to attend the University of Louisville planning to study sports management.
Taylor likes to work hard and work with his hands, so he’s going to attend Owensboro Community & Technical College looking at possibly becoming a welder.
Morgan is going to run track and cross country at Brescia University, where she’s going to study to be an elementary school teacher. And Maddie is transferring from OCTC to Western Kentucky University to study speech therapy.
Soon Jason and Angie will have to adjust to another new normal, not having kids in the house needing food or rides or much parenting at all.
“We’re going to enjoy being empty nesters, I guess,” Jason said. “We’d like to be able to travel and do all those things that everybody else wants to do when you’ve got a little more freedom, but at the same time we’ve got to be able to afford to do those things too when you’ve got four kids in college.”