Saturday, May 27, 2017

CF Awareness Month Day 27 - Inspirations

I'd say one of the biggest inspirations in my life right now is my grandmother (Oma).  Sadly, Oma passed away in March of this year.  But she made it to almost 91, and crammed a lot of living into those 91 years!

Part of what makes her so inspirational to me and my fight against cystic fibrosis is this:

My grandfather had a stroke that left him permanently disabled and confined to a wheelchair in 1997.  Eventually, he came back home, where my grandmother took care of him.  Then, two days before her 73rd birthday in April 1999, my grandmother ALSO had a stroke that left her permanently disabled and confined to a wheelchair.  This was a hard blow, and required a lot of adjustment and hard work from the family to help make sure both my grandparents would be taken care of.

But Oma wasn't about to let this knock her down for good.  Despite the frustrations of having half of her body permanently paralyzed, she was determined to keep on living the way she wanted to be living.  She wanted to live at home, in her house, so she made it happen.  It was hard work and sometimes mentally exhausting continuously finding people to hire and help out with the cleaning, cooking, yard work, driving to and from doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, etc., but she made it work.  She also took charge of my grandfather's care again, finding rehab facilities for him to live in, and eventually finding a way to move him back home with her until he passed away.  She set her goal, and she was determined to make it work - and make it work, she did, for 15 years.

Aside from persevering through the mental exhaustion of running a house when you are elderly and paralyzed, as well as keeping up with never-ending paperwork for insurance, retirement, my grandfather's living arrangements, etc., Oma also dealt with physical frustrations every day.  No longer able to walk on her own, everyday tasks were now either 10x more difficult or flat out impossible.  Things like getting in and out of bed, using the bathroom, getting dressed in the morning, and even eating and drinking took a lot of effort, energy, and concentration.  But she never let that get her down.  For 18 years, she jumped at any and every chance to receive physical therapy to keep herself as strong as possible.

Most importantly, she remained joyful and kind, and definitely kept her sense of humor.  Everyday life was difficult, but she loved each day she was given.  She found ways to still enjoy life and bless the lives of others, despite her limitations from the stroke.  She loved people, and she loved the Lord, and she let everyone she met know it.  And when she was determined to accomplish something, heaven help the man who tried to stand in her way!  She remained a strong and independent spirit right up to the end.

I miss my grandmother very much, but love the memories and legacy she has left with me.  Her determination to still love life and live it the way she wanted to live it despite her handicap are a fantastic reminder to me to enjoy this life I've been given, even when CF has me down in the dumps.  Despite a life-shortening chronic illness that I know will never go away, I can still choose to find joy in each day, love those around me, and strive to make the most of every day I'm given.  Also, once I make up my mind to do something - just try and stop me. 😉

We love and miss you, Oma.  Thank you for being such an amazing and inspirational example of a strong, independent, determined, and godly woman to all your daughters and granddaughters.

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