Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
TITLE: An Ordinary Hero
By Ann FitzHenry
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What are you doing here? You seem to have a knack for showing up in the most unusual places. When my thoughts are miles away, I find you stepping into my every day life. At the most unexpected times, a little piece of advice or a childhood memory sends me back to you. As I get older, I can even see you in my reflection. After all of these years, I am still learning from your example.
Mom, if there is one thing you taught me, it is to never give up. When you were diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 48, the doctors shook their heads and gave you six months to live. With incredible determination, you turned six months into almost six years. Rather than accepting your diagnosis as the end, it became your beginning. You lived each day with one goal in mind: to see your only child graduate from high school. Instead of retreating in despair, you lived each day with a single purpose. You endured weekly chemotherapy treatments and countless surgeries just for a chance to see me grow up. Whether you were in a hospital bed or propped in our living room, you never stopped being a mother. Even though we had ostomy supplies in the door of the refrigerator, you endeavored to make my life as an eight year-old girl as normal as possible. It would have been easy to let the details slide, but you always made the effort to tuck me into bed at night. Whether we were doing homework in the hospital waiting room or practicing spelling words at the foot of your bed, you lived life in the present. Unfortunately, however, life sometimes has its own ideas. Despite everything you suffered, you never saw me graduate from high school. In the end you lost the race of time, but you crossed the finish line a winner.
Years later when my own endurance was tested, I only had to look to your example for guidance. When I faced infertility in my late twenties, it was my turn to defy the odds. During a year of intense treatment, I struggled with the eager anticipation and the inevitable disappointment of each failed attempt. Even though it was difficult at times, I persevered. When I thought I had reached the limit for how many shots my posterior could endure; I remembered your collapsed veins and bruised arms from chemotherapy. My black-and-blue behind was nothing in comparison. In September 2002 you finally earned the title of “Grandma.” I can only imagine your excitement. Your little girl had crossed the finish line, too.
It has been over 20 years since I called you, “Mom.” Even though our time together was short, I have never forgotten your unbreakable spirit. It is your courage and inner strength that I carry with me every day. Now that I’m a mom, I can understand the depth of your love and your determination to live. No sacrifice is too great for the love of your child.
Mom, thank you for showing me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. I am convinced that almost anything can be conquered when taken one day at a time. You lived your life with the hope that each day was a new beginning. You never gave up on the promise of tomorrow’s dawn. Mom, thanks for being my hero.
All my love,
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