Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kind and Brave, a zebra daughter to her zebra mother

I am so thrilled to finally be posting the other Kind and Brave Giveaway nominations. I am mailing out some little gifts to each one of these ladies with a printed copy, and, with permission from those who wrote about them, I am publishing some of the stories here to inspire you in your own pursuit of courage and kindness. This nomination moves me to tears each time I read it. Perhaps because the Ehlers Danlos Diagnosis is one I suffer from and my pain was so misdiagnosed for so many years. This woman's story encourages me to seek to live beyond my suffering every single day and continue to make a difference in the lives of those around me. Life is short and achingly beautiful.  What will you do with yours? 

Hi Monica,

You asked that we nominate someone for the giveaway, so I nominate my mom.

I literally cry when I think of how kind and brave (and loving and strong) she is, and has been, throughout her life. She has been a role model to me, and I can never thank her enough for everything she has done for me - and I know that there are many other people who she has gifted with her attention that feel the same way as I.

My mother has known pain her entire life. When I asked her at what age she remembers having pain her answer was that she could not recall a day that she did not have it - she remembers it as a child. Her parents gave her no assistance or recognition of this pain; she was raised in a house hold who's philosophy was that you were to deal with it and be quiet about it - to 'suck it up'. She survived this trial, to only be confronted by health professionals throughout her life telling her that the pain was all in her head. And she continued to survive - to survive and thrive in spite of it.

B, my mother, became a teacher of english and physical education. She was the first person in the United States to write the first request for funding from the Federal Government for a field that has become known as Physical Therapy. The program she proposed was funded, and she began to give physical therapy to disabled individuals of all types in a gym (an indoor basket ball court), on the gym mats, using the gym equipment, on our local community college campus. I remember playing in the gym with my brother, with the equipment as she worked. I also remember the day, when I was about 6, that my mother and I ran into an elderly man down town. My mother and he had a brief, jovial chat, then we headed on our way. I asked her then who he was - she replied that he had been a student of her's, doing physical therapy, for the paralysis he had had from a gun shot wound to his neck. He had been paralysed from the neck down. When I saw him that day he was a typical senior citizen, traipsing around with a cane. That memory has never left me.

At a time when teen pregnancy was not discussed, and teen mothers received no care or guidance, my mother and a friend started a program to help them through labor. They used known delivery preparation techniques, and taught them how to have a good childbirth. In the two years that my mother helped teach that class the health issues associated with teen pregnancies decreased by 80%, saving many young girls’ and babies’ lives. The program still runs today.

A ray of sunlight shines forth from my mother when she gives to others, which she enjoys doing immensely, and which she does constantly. If anyone she knows has ever needed assistance, needed a friendly smile, or been in a tough spot - she has been there. She understands pain in so many forms that she can not conceive of not helping someone who is in pain, be it physical or mental. I don’t believe this is concious on her part - only the realization of the satisfaction she receives from others feeling better is she aware of. My entire life I have assisted her on one fundraiser after another; put on birthday parties, weddings, thank you parties, send-off parties, you name it for people who would not have had one if she had not decided to do it; put together care packages for friends in need, whether down on their luck, ill, or heart broken from loss. Many people she has hired, or given charity to, to help who were in need of a leg-up due to difficult life situations. And this charity of spirit does not end there, it extends to animals as well.

Animals adorned our household my entire life. My mother’s love of animals extended to all types; and she gives thoughtfully to the local wildlife rehabilition center. We have been known to take in injured animals, and either find them good care or nursed them back to health ourselves. And, as she has some property near a busy road, she has found far too many kittens left on the property by uncaring folk who wished to only be rid of them - so she took them in. Not into the house, mind you, but to live around her home. They, some 60 over the years, have been fixed/neutered, fed, and loved, and they have loved her back.

My mother’s quiet suffering went unacknowledged by the medical community till after I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in 2010; then, after a year of kindly badgering her, when she visited my home, I was able to get her seen my my diagnosing doctor; and at the age of 69 she was told that her pain was real and why she had it. My mother was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. She received medicines that have given her some relief from the pain that she has had her entire life - for the first time in her life. Yet, as I sit here, I suspect her of having a number of the other illnesses associated with EDS, such as my Chiari malformation, POTS, along with her heart disease, vascular insufficiencies...

I cry as I write this because I can not conceive of anyone who has been stronger, braver, and fought the good fight - not for herself - but for others, through such adversity, for so long. My mother is kind, generous to a fault, loving, brave, courageous, AND MORE. She is my hero. I love her so.

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