I am sure that we all have people who we admire in our lives. I am not talking about the current super athlete or the "to die for" latest Hollywood celebrity. There are those in our lives who earn our respect by their positive, can-do attitude, their generosity of their time and their strong faith in the darkest times. They are the image that we seek as we live our day to day lives.
There is one person in particular who makes me so appreciative to have her in my life -- my MOM. Today is a day that always reminds me of what a special person she is. It is the twelfth anniversary of the day she became a paraplegic.
My father had died just three months prior to this day and she had spent several years caring for him after his stroke. Always a very active person, my mother's life was put "on hold" for awhile while she easily slipped into the role of caregiver. We all realized that this would be time that would be difficult but had many rewards.
Shortly after my father's death my mother's time was filled with returning to her walking three miles a day with her friends, traveling and remodeling her kitchen. At the age of 73 she was very active.
She had been painting the inside of her cupboards to lighten up the interior for the new doors that were to be a light colored wood. The phone call came at 5:30 in the morning that she had "a real problem." She was unable to get out of bed after a night with a severe backache. Being a nurse, my first thought was that she had possibly ruptured a disc from all the strange body positions (contortions) while painting the cupboards.
I jumped into my car and drove the half hour to her home to see what was going on. Knowing that we had to get her to the hospital, I wanted to call an ambulance. Ever my mother, she did not want the neighbors to "see" her being taken away in an ambulance. I lifted her and carried her to the car and we proceeded on our way while she continued to apologize for making me come up so early.
It was three days and many tests later that the doctor came in to let her know that, although they did not know just what it was, she would not walk again. From that very moment there was never a "Why me?" attitude, but rather, "Let's get to the rehab hospital and move on."
She was transferred the next day and started the hardest work of her life. She was adamant that she would continue to live on her own and knew she had a lot to learn. For three months she was found cheering up other patients in the rehab -- teaching them to cook and lining up bridge games. This was in between her very scheduled days. And, yes, she did go home to her own home.
It was during this period and more testing that she was finally diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, a disease that was foreign to me and many others. It apparently strikes one in 1.3 million people. Again, as only my mother could, she announced that she had always known that she was "one in a million."
She did move closer to my sister and myself about six years ago. She still continues, at 85 years of age, to live on her own with minimum help for cleaning and showering. There have been surgeries, health issues and many adjustments along the way but she continues to challenge each one of them with grace. Her network of friends has always been fabulous. She draws people to her with her wonderful attitude, concern about everyone else and her generosity. As she always says, "My life hasn't really changed THAT much; I'm just shorter."
What an inspiration she has been to all of us.
This photo was taken at our daughter's wedding in August.....pretty lady, isn't she?