This I Believe

Kris - Grand Rapids, Michigan
Entered on July 3, 2006

I believe in courage…the courage that we have inside our hearts and souls.

My Mother, one of bravest women I know, recently drove 6700 miles so my stepfather could see the children just one more time. One more bear hug, one more kiss, and another wink of the eye. One more time to say, “I love you.” Married for 42 years, she is not quite 82 and he’s 77.

You see, he has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. After the doctor delivered his news, Leonard decided this is it. No more food, no more treatments. Memories of nausea and endless hours in the waiting room haunted him. My Mother called and told me the grim news.

But then, the phone rang again a day later, and she delivered another message from Leonard. They had decided to drive from West Palm Beach to Anaheim to St. Joseph to Grand Rapids and back to West Palm. She would do all the driving; he would navigate. Keeping in touch would be easy with a cell phone and a laptop. My husband and I frankly expected to receive a call from a state trooper delivering sad, but not surprising news. But, wonderfully, that did not happen.

They say they know almost every rest stop in the country and a lot of highway convenient motels with first-floor handicapped rooms. My Mother is not a city driver. So, it was highways all the way from West Palm to Anaheim. The density and the busyness of the city shocked them, and they thought the gas prices were ludicrous. “How do people make it?” they asked. They held court and saw everybody important to them, and those who didn’t come, lost out. Then it was on to St. Joseph, to see Leonard junior.

By this time, my husband and I thought, this can’t go on. Something is going to happen. In fact, we received a call on a Tuesday afternoon. They had arrived in Grand Rapids! Wow! This woman is incredible! Our reunion was wonderful, somewhat misty, and teary because you could see the tiredness in Leonard’s eyes and gestures. We went to dinner and enjoyed talking and laughing. On early Friday morning, I went to the hotel for one last hug and to wish them well on the trip back home. This was the last time I saw Leonard. He passed away just this past Wednesday.

Mother and Leonard were home just two weeks before he was taken to Hospice. His last E-Mail message had mission accomplished in the subject line.

Now, it is time for another kind of courage. The courage to go on living alone when the man you loved is not there to share the everyday of living.

I believe in courage. The women in my life, my Grandmother, my Great Aunt, and my Mother, are all women of courage, not heroes. We would bravely and willingly drive 6700 miles and more, to show bravery, love, and support.