S he didn’t have the easiest life. Her mom was always sick and eventually went blind from Type 2 Diabetes. She dropped out of school in the 10th grade to care for her. When her three siblings all married and moved away, she continued to care for her mother until she met my dad in her mid-twenties and moved my grandmother to a nursing home. The birth of both her children were difficult; she endured 36 hours of labor with my brother, and lost nearly 30 pounds while pregnant with me due to asthma, which she suffered from for the rest of her life. Although she was not a risk-taker and often saw the negative aspects of a situation first, I could not have had a better role model than my mom. 38 | Eydis Magazine Here are three reasons why. 1. SHE TAUGHT ME DETERMINATION Mom was left-handed when she started school and at that time, left-handed children were judged as being wrong and different. She was forced to switch to writing with her right hand, which she says caused her to stutter for years to come. It was something that always made her self-conscious and affected her self-esteem. Yet, if someone threatened one of her children, “Mama Bear” came to life and any personal fears she had disappeared. My older brother also started school left-handed and when the school system tried to switch him over as they had done to her, Mom was in the principal’s office giving him a piece of her mind. While communicating verbally was challenging at times, she easily expressed herself with art. I have memories of many oil paintings she created and a few hang in my home today. Although she never felt confident about her talent, she was good. But more than anything, her determination to live for eight years following a major heart attack, coupled with diabetes, kidney issues, congestive heart failure and MRSA contracted in the hospital reminds me how possible it is to fight through adversity. There is always a path to the goal and a way to make something happen. Mom taught me that. 2. SHE TAUGHT ME TO HELP OTHERS From a very young age, I remember my mom reaching out to others in need, often volunteering behind the scenes. She invited every stray to holiday celebrations — people who had nowhere else to go — and called the local colleges and Navy base to invite students and service men or women who had no family or friends to be with. She would even send my dad to pick them up. Mom didn’t know how to cook for just four, the size of our family. She excelled at cooking for 30, so we always had lots of leftovers!