The few people who follow this know I lost my dad when I was 11 years old. Today is his birthday. He would have been 60.
I miss him so much. I look at my three girls and imagine what he would have been like with them. He would have adored them, I know. I think of him often.
When hallmark days like this come around, it is yet another reminder of all my own mother must have gone through. She was widowed at about my age, with three young girls; just like me. I can only imagine the heartache and strength it took to get up every morning and try to raise us three girls and get back to living again.
My mom and dad were high school sweethearts and each others' best friend. Her whole world came crashing down when he died. The amount of strength and character it took to raise us.... She is an unbelievable woman. And she isn't the only one in my family who is. It would seem as if my family full of remarkable, strong women.
You see, my mom has three sisters. And as much as I would love to be able to sit here and tell you that my mom was the only one tragedy struck, I can't.
One of my aunts lost her son in a terrible car accident when he was just 16 years of age. His life was just really starting. My cousin was good person. Very family orientated. He would have grown to be an amazing man.
Another one of my aunts, years later, lost her eldest son in a car accident. My mom and another aunt came across the accident. They went with the trooper to the house to deliver the bad news. He too was a good person. Just 18 years of age. The world lost such a wonderful talent when he passed. Another family member gone too soon.
And last by not least, is my eldest aunt. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. She fought hard. She is in remission now, and we can't wait for the 5 yr mark of no cancer.
And now, as if these women have not endured enough in life, their father (my grandfather) has Alzheimer's and Lung Cancer. He has refused treatment for the cancer. These women, all of them, rally behind him and grandmother. Checking in often, taking them places, visiting, going to Alzheimer's meeting, and keeping up with the latest research, and promoting the cause in their own ways.
There are days in my life, when I feel as if I am standing on my last leg. Where I feel beaten up, weak. Days when I feel like all I want to do is cry. But then, I remember all these remarkable women of my family. I remember all they have endured. I remember their strength. It's a lot to live up to. But somewhere in me, that same blood runs. There I days I have to find that strength (like today), but I know it's there.
If ever I needed a role model, I don't just have one, but I have four. Four women who have shown me what it means to stay strong, fight. Four women who have faced some of the worst life has to dish out, and have not only survived, but have not let it make them bitter, they still enjoy life. Four women who have shown me it's okay to hurt. It's okay to struggle. It's okay to have bad days. But it's not okay to let them get the best of me. It's not okay to let those days over-shadow the light that's in each of us. And when I look at my three girls, I can only hope that this same strength flows through them.
I hate that my family has endured so much pain (and still is). I would not wish these events on my worst enemy, if I had one. But it's because of these events I can truly see how amazing and remarkable the women of my family are. I wonder if they know it? I wonder if they have ever stopped to realize the impact they each have made on this family in their struggles? Probably not. That's just who they are. And I wouldn't trade a one of them for all the money in the world.
My heartaches for all they have gone through. But I can't thank the four of them enough for all their love, support, and strength they have shown me we possess. I am one very blessed woman to not only know these women, but call them family. And should I ever start to stumble, I know all I have to do is look up, they'll be there. Reminding me of what all we can accomplish, endure, and overcome.... as a family... as women of strength.