I held her frail ninety-five year old life ravaged body as she began to breath slower and slower with longer pauses in between. How odd it felt to just let her die. For ninety-five years she had fought hard to stay alive, so that she could give and love all that were blessed enough to be in her sphere of influence.
At the age of twenty the doctors told her that she had severe kidney disease. The year was 1939. There were no kidney transplants. Surgery was not advanced enough to repair the congenital abnormality of her kidney tube.
They told her that she would spend her life as an invalid. She would need to rest the greater part of everyday. She should NEVER marry, and certainly she should NEVER attempt to have children. She would die young because of the ravages of her kidney disease.
She called a beloved friend sobbing. Somehow her friend managed to understand Mama's sob infused words. The friend's reaction? She began to laugh.
Mama said for years afterwards, "I thought she had gone crazy. This was certainly not a circumstance that would inspire laughter!"
The friend finally said, "Oh Sarah, you're going to learn to take such good care of yourself that you'll outlive the rest of us."
Mama remembered thinking, "You can DO THAT? That's a possibility?"
Thus began an intense research program. Mama found all the books that she could and studied kidney disease. Some of the ideas that were encased in books old and new did NOT work. Many of the ideas DID work...obviously, because she DID outlive most of her friends, and most of her family. (Her sister, younger by 13 years is the only living member of the family. Even spouses are all gone).
Her beloved friend who told her, "You'll out live all of us." Has been out lived by many, many year
Mama had many health problems throughout her 95 years. Yet she seemed indestructible. She still babysat for her grandchildren, and then great grandchildren until she was 90. She made almost 80 quilts in her 80s and sent them to her grandson who was deployed to Iraq. He gave them to Iraqi children in need, and to soldiers that were struggling.
At ninety-five she was in a care center, unable to do much of anything for herself. That was the ultimate blow for Mama, losing her independence. I used to remind her, "Mama many of the people in this world NEVER get to be independent. I reminded her of the multiple times in MY life when I have needed help with toileting, walking, clothing, etc. etc. Still, it was hard to the day that she died to have others doing these things for her.
What is the point of this post? The point is that many would think of my Mama as an ordinary, average, woman. She was never in a political position. She was certainly never wealthy in earthly ways. Most people on this planet have never heard of her. Yet Mama was my Shero. (You know Hero, Shero...Heroine may be spelled differently but it's pronounced the same as Heroin. That is a drug). The amazing women that I know are SHERO'S!
Mother held her sister's head so that a doctor could swab and expose the wound. (Aunt Della had two skull fractures as a child, bucked off a horse both times). The doctor was amazed that Mama could be such a calm practical nurse at such a young age.
Mama was the woman that you wanted around in a crisis. She learned early in her life to face the hardest things that life can hand you the need arises. Is there such a thing as an "ordinary" woman? I think that the phrase ORDINARY WOMAN is an oxymoron. I have seldom met an ORDINARY woman, and my Mother was not one. She spent her life serving and loving others. That to my mind is truly EXTRAORDINARY!