A Tribute to My Mother's Strength

 

nurse
Mom just out of nursing school.

 

 

 

 

My mother's name is Grace. I can't image a more appropriate name for a woman who exudes nothing but poise and balance through her every action.


My mother is a nurse and even when she wasn't on duty at the hospital or nursing home: she was nursing.

At home my mother always nursed my sister Maria who is profoundly retarded. Maria does not speak or feed herself. She needs help to do all daily tasks. At the time my mother had her most people institutionalized children with the level of need that my sister has, but not my mom. Maria lived at home until she was 18. 


child
My sister Maria.

Having Maria live at home was very trying for my mother. Having four children to care for is exhausting enough, never mind having a child who didn't walk until she was 7 to care for too. But my mom did it.


a family
My family: I'm the one sucking her thumb.

Four children, one profoundly retarded, sounds likes the limit for caring that one person can perform, but it wasn't for my mother. She also took care of her own mother when she lost a leg to diabetes. 


couple
My Aunt Marie and Uncle Gerald

My mom's oldest sister developed cancer in her 50's and my mother took care of her until the end. I was a teenager and I remember visiting my aunt. She was  at the nursing home were my mother worked. My aunt Marie was slowly wilting away, and yet my mother stayed strong for her. How could she do this? 


couple
My mother and father. 

Then there was my father who had heart disease and diabetes. His health tilted back and forth for most of my childhood until he died at the age of 57.

After his death my mother went back to work full time and helped put me through college. Where did she get all of her emotional strength? 

Ten years ago Grace nursed her second husband through lung cancer. He did not survive, but my mother carries on... and she doesn't do it somberly, which you might expect from a woman who has dealt with so much emotional pain both personally and professionally, she does it with joy and an exuberance for life that you associate more with a 20 year old then with an 83 year old woman. 


older woman
My mom today

My only answer to my mother's ability to be so resilient is this: Occasionally my mother would break down into tears... which is completely understandable considering the emotional stress she was constantly under. I've witnessed these breakdowns many times over my childhood. But they were not pitiful crying spells... my mother's cries somehow always transformed into pray. 

She would call out, "God give me strength." And something would happen. Her face would change, the feeling in the room would change. And I believe God gave her strength.

And so, I learned from my mother to always ask for help when you need it. Never go it alone. If you need help from your family ask for it. If you need help from your friends ask for it. And if you need help from God ask for it too. We are all worthy of being helped. 

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