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A mother’s inspiration
Dorothy Mary Malik Hons
One OpinionFebruary 2, 2005 857 views 1 comment
I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for a mother who believed in the ability of each of her nine children to do something on their own. She encouraged, pushed, and prodded each of us to be independent and self-sufficient, and to pursue our dreams and develop whatever God-given talents and abilities we might have.
One day, I hope to find a copy of a letter my mother wrote. It was published in Today’s Catholic, and I still remember my excitement at seeing her few words convey such depth of meaning. I was so impressed and, although I didn’t realize it at the time, inspired.
Thus, it is because of her inspiration that I would have the confidence to pursue my passion for writing and make it into a career, albeit an accidental career. I know deep down that it was because of her gentle prodding that I pursued my dream. She inspired a lot of people.
You see, my mother had multiple sclerosis, and had difficulty walking long before the young age of 40. Her disease progressed to where she had to use a cane, and then a wheelchair -- first manual and then electric. The progress of her disease was unrelenting, yet she never gave up or thought of herself as disabled.
During the eulogy at her funeral, I learned that her grandchildren never even thought of it as unusual that their grandmother couldn’t walk.
Grandma was in a wheelchair -- or, for the very youngest, grandma couldn’t get out of bed. That was just grandma.
In fact, for the last couple of years, grandma couldn’t move so much as a little finger. The only mobility she had was turning her head in about a 45-degree angle. Her entire world consisted of her room -- but only one side of her room -- unless someone would turn her bed so that she could see the other side.
Was she bitter? Ready to die? Not at all. She loved life. She reached out to anyone who would come into her one-room world. She still remembered names and dates better than I.
She did not complain, and her spirit stayed strong when others would have abandoned hope years -- or even decades -- ago.
What kept her going, one cannot imagine. She had a strong faith, to be sure. She lived in some ways vicariously through those around her. Her condition challenged her to find ways to keep interested -- and keep interested, she did! I recall reading an article about life. Life, explained the paraplegic author, was not something physical, but the spirit within and no one could take that from you.
Although her voice was so weak that many were afraid to try to communicate with her, she would struggle to get out a few faint words so that another person could understand what she had to say. It might take her five minutes to get someone to understand that she just wanted to comment on the weather, but she would not give up. I believe that I have inherited some of that determination.
That last Friday when she still could talk, the focus of her “conversation,” was to ask what it said on the blanket that was on my dad’s bed. It said, “Grandmas are for hugs.” She asked me three times what it said. I told her, and each time, I could see her lips moving. She would keep that thought through the night. It was all she had to hang on to. And she did this day after day.
She couldn’t wipe a tear from her eye, blow her nose, or twist or turn when her body burned from being in one position for hours at a time.
Her “only enjoyment” in life, she told me on that Friday before she died when she still could talk, was eating. The fact that enjoyment was even in her vocabulary at that time struck me as utterly amazing. She was an amazing woman. I don’t know where I found it, but I recently read this beautiful message and I know that it was meant for my mother: Being in touch with the silence within teaches you that everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings from God given to us in order that we learn from them.
There is no mistake. That was my mother.
•Dorothy Malik Hons obituary
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