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May 9, 2005

My Hero's ....


My mom ..... My Hero

After reading Dick's and Kaetlan's posts about their Mother's, I decided to write about the two most influential women in my life. One is a very traditional, "all I want to to be when I grow up is a wife and mother", and the other was, "Marriage and motherhood are for cavemen who were lucky to have lived past the age of 15 without being eaten!". Such complete opposites, but they both taught me the most valuable lessons I could have ever learned, and they both molded me into the woman I am today.

The first is my Mother. She was a tall, slender, strikingly beautiful woman. I always knew why my Dad fell instantly in love with her. She was tough, but was quick with a smile, and a hug. She loved to cuddle in the middle of the day, just because. Her life was her husband, family and home. She did have a part time job, but only so she could have money to buy presents for us ungrateful chitlins. I was the youngest of 3, and the only girl. Our house was like a never ending wrestling match! Every once in awhile, I would catch her laughing at us before she came in to "lay the smack down". Most times she was more like a single parent, as my Dad was always teaching, working , or at a conference. She never complained. She was a constant light for all of us. Always there, always taking care of us, always loving us more than I think we ever gave back to her.

It's hard for me to write about her, as I am the same age she was when she died. I look at her pictures and she looks so young, and yet, I feel so old. Honestly, I never thought I would live to be 36. In a few months, I will have passed her in age, and that scares me sometimes. I don't know HOW to be older than she was. I don't know how she lived with the knowledge that no matter what she did, she was going to die. My mother was diagnosed with an extremely rare type of Leukemia in the fall of 1977, by the summer of 1979, she was gone. I never knew she was dying, I only knew she was sick. Back in those days, chemotherapy and radiation were even harder on people than it still is today. I watched this once strong, vivacious woman deteriorate, and it changed me forever. At the tender age of 9, I was helping her crawl to the bathroom to clean up after throwing up all over herself. My brothers and I took turns watching her to make sure she didn't pass out on the kitchen floor, and we would call our Father at work to come home and give her a shot to ease the pain. The last time I saw my Mother alive, she was being taken away in an ambulance. I never got the chance to tell her how much I love her. I can only hope that somehow, somewhere, she knows how much I love her, and how much I miss her. Someone once asked me, "if you could have a conversation with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?". That's easy, it would be my Mother.



Gram and Josh

My second hero is my Grandmother. She was all of 4'11", but her presence filled a room. She was a highly intelligent, very forward thinking woman. She was a feminist long before it was fashionable. Her parents were both born deaf, yet she and my Aunt were not. She learned early on to be in charge of her own life, and her own destiny. She never took crap from anyone, or anything. Yet, she had a very soft tender heart. She was not your typical "let me bake you some cookies" Grandmother. She was a "let me show you how to fix the leaky faucet" kind of gal. During WWII, she was a lead foreman at an electrical plant while my Grandfather was off doing his duty in the South Pacific. After the war, she was "asked" by the company to give up her position in favor of a more genteel office position as a secretary. She told them to eat shit (her words, not mine). She didn't feel that she should have to give up her postion for a man. She eventually ended up retiring from what is now AT&T; as a shift foreman. She always told me that being born a woman was not an excuse for not doing, or being, whatever it is you want to in this world. She was my biggest fan when I decided to become a Firefighter. My Father and brothers were not exactly thrilled, but she was. When I was pregnant with my first son, and very much alone, she sat me down and told me, "Some women are meant to be mother's, and some aren't. Just because we have the ability, doesn't mean we all should be. Which are you?". She said that if I wasn't sure about being a Mother, she would take me to get an abortion. However, if I was determined to have my son, then she would help me raise him. She never passed judgement, she just cut to the facts and put it all on the line. She did that with everything, and everyone. She was a paradox to me. She would spew the virtue of not bending to any man's will, but then show me the proper way to dress and apply makeup to attract a man. How I miss her contradictory ways! Just thinking about her makes me laugh and smile! She was the best.


There's so much more I could write about these two extraordinary women, but I'm afraid I can't see through my tears. They were very different, but in the end, quite similar. They are my hero's. I love you both so very much, and I miss you both more than I ever thought possible.

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