We spent last week in Illinois with my husband’s family. His father is nearing the end of his time with us as his cancer has spread, and the Parkinson’s Disease has robbed him of both his mobility and his mental clarity.
Having lost my mother this past January after she too fought a battle with cancer coupled with Alzheimer’s Disease, seeing my father-in-law in this condition was gut-retching painful. My mother-in-law is providing round-the-clock care that I fear will soon be unsustainable for them both. My sister and I were my mother’s primary care-givers. Too many memories, both good and bad came flooding back.
I don’t know that we ever get over the death of a parent. Even knowing this is the natural path, it still can immobilize me at times with sadness.
I can not even imagine the pain involved in loosing a spouse or child. I have friends that have experienced both. I admire them the strength they show in moving forward each and every day.
Last week, while lying wide awake in my in-laws guest bedroom, I tried to make a mental list of people I most admired, found fascinating and would love to sit down and spend a day with. The list was not that long, and I may just write about it in the near future.
What I found most interesting in this mental exercise was that although many names almost made the list, few actually did.
There was one name that stuck out the most to me, and sadly I can never have that one-on-one conversation, because he is no longer living. This guy was my hero, and remains the one person I admire most besides my husband.
He was wise, witty, soft-spoken, and a best-selling author. He published five books of poetry and one of essays. He became a motivational speaker, and lobbied on Capitol Hill on behalf of peace. An advocate for people with disabilities, and children with life-threatening conditions, he made himself heard.
A few of my favorite quotes of his include:
Wars should be fought with words, not bombs, not weapons. And calm words. I think that wars should be fought over a chessboard and a cup of something to drink.
You can’t lie down in the ashes of another persons life.
Sunset is still my favorite color and rainbow is second.
Even though the future seems far away, it is actually beginning right now.
We all have life storms, and when we get the rough times and we recover from them, we should celebrate that we got through it. No matter how bad it may seem, there’s always something beautiful you can find.
This wise, beautiful soul died before reaching his 14th birthday. The morsels of wisdom, far beyond his years have touched so many. I can not even imagine the gifts left wrapped due to his passing far too soon.
Why do I admire him so much? Because although born with a rare and crippling form of muscular dystrophy, he lived his life to the fullest amount possible. He spoke his truth. He did not let his challenges stop him from being positive.
He made a difference. He lived until he died.
RIP Mattie Stepanek (July 17, 1990 – June 22, 2004)
I would love to know who your hero is. Please let me know who you most admire, would be excited to meet, or be able to sit down and visit with over a cup of coffee.