Is there a woman that has made a difference in your life? Someone who influenced, motivated and whose characteristics you try to emulate?
There have been a few in my life. My Aunt Dot was diagnosed with cancer when she was 38. She was given 6 weeks to 6 months to live. Yet, she refused to take the expert’s word for it and worked diligently, steadfastly to research and try all methods of treatment. When told to exercise her arm to reduce atrophy she took up painting – a talent she never knew she had. Her paintings were in galleries in both New York and Florida. Aunt Dot would find something she liked and tell my uncle –“I can make that!” and then she would. She taught me perseverance, and to use my talents as therapy for myself and to help others.
My mother-in-law, Momo, was widowed at 42 leaving her to raise children ages 8, 12, 16. Trained as a nurse but had been a stay at home mom at the time of her husband’s death, she chose to tighten up the purse strings and continue to stay at home until the youngest was in college. Momo then went back to her nursing career. I never heard her complain, grumble, grouse. How did she do it? Coping and grousing are my coping mechanisms! Her patience was unending as was her skill at nursing. I learned much of my caregiving from watching how she took care of the family members when they were ill – including my husband and I. And let’s not talk about her cooking. She learned to cook on the family farm by helping her mother feed the farm hands and her meals filled our homes with delicious aromas and sent our taste buds into drool mode.
My greatest influence was my mom. One of God’s gifts to me was being my mother’s daughter. Unbeknownst to me as I was growing up, was the impact and visual aid I had in watching how my mom tackled life. Though born into affluence, my mom married at 17 and lived in a basement apartment in Kansas where my father was stationed until called into service abroad. The building sewer pipe ran above her bed and she told me her prayers at night included the hope it would never burst. Not knowing how to iron she begged a dry cleaner to teach her how to iron her husband’s army shirts and taught herself how to cook and clean. As life progressed and their lives and my father’s work afforded a better life, she learned how to create lavish, formal dinners with dignitaries from all over the world. Yet, mom never lost the “I can do it myself” attitude. She painted her own homes, washed her own car, and even refinished her own furniture. In the 1960’s my mother started her own diaper service for mothers in Italy. At a time when women were just entering the workforce she had to gain their trust and confidence that she, like them, wanted the best sanitation and quality of diapers and service and would see that they received it. Not only did she have to overcome their concerns, but had to learn the government regulations and taxation of that country. A widow at 42, I watched her strength to carry on with her business while raising her children to adulthood. I saw her struggle, her sadness and her pain; but I also saw her resiliency, her strength and resolve to carry on. While life as she had known it with my father was over and would never be the same; she was determined to create a new life. She volunteered at the local hospital and when asked where she wished to volunteer, she told them “Wherever I am needed”. They placed in the snack bar. During my middle school years, when I knew she was working, I would take the bus to the hospital and have my snack there until she was off shift. There I would find her waiting on tables, filling drinks and serving; interacting with doctors,nurses, patients, and family members alike. My classy mom wearing her pink ladies auxiliary smock, with her long manicured nails, and hair done up in a stylish “up-do” would laugh, lend an ear, or console those that made their way into the snack shop. Many came just to “visit” with her and often ask to be seated in Gloria’s section. She earned her service pin in record time along with her varicose veins.
My mother faced many obstacles as a single woman in the 1970’s both in business, and in her 10 year battle with cancer. She pursued good health aggressively and when there were no more options for this life; prepared her family and her affairs and looked forward to a new life that waited beyond what her vision could see, and her faith promised.
One of her greatest lessons for me was how she used humor as her armor against the attacks on her life. Now more than ever, as I and my husband face our own health issues; I find myself thinking of her and how she chose to find the funny to thrive rather than dive into despair.
These women who made a difference in my life now reside with God. But their lives have been a road map to guide me and I feel blessed for these trailblazers. Who are the women in your life that have helped you be strong during times of weakness, and face fear with faith? What examples were they in what circumstances? Your sharing helps strengthen our resolve to be the kind of women that shaped our lives for the better.
In celebration of my Aunt Dot, Momo, and my mother, I am offering a discount on my book Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. Written as a devotional of medical parables, this book empowers Christian women to self-prescribe the tools of education, faith and humor to see the blessings through the stressing in their lives. Candid stories are peppered with humor, salted with God’s word to gain perspective to handle the outbreaks of medical mayhem. It is a prescription for healing with injections of humor for the soul that brings the reader from pressed to blessed.
For the month of May my book will be on sale for $10.00 plus shipping. Just go to www.LorettaSchoen.com and enter in coupon code: get4ten and I’ll send you my book. Buy a copy to give and one to keep. And start laughing and smiling.
Happy Mother’s Day!