Most of the blogs that I write are about motivation, setting goals, and managing your time. This one is different, this is a true story of my aunt whose life is in itself a study of what faith, motivation, and inspiration can do.
My aunt Irene did not have an easy life, she did not come from a wealthy family, she worked in a shoe factory alongside my uncle Raymond, her husband, and yet they managed to raise five successful children.
The truly inspirational part of the story, although some might say her whole life is an inspiration, comes in her senior years after her husband had died. Living with her daughter in a small house in Ohio she was always overjoyed to see any of her relatives. Her faith, her church family, and most of all her children, were some of her greatest joys in life. Everyone who has ever met her would tell you what a joy it was to be around her.
Several years ago she was diagnosed with macular degeneration, a debilitating disease of the eyes where one’s eyesight eventually degenerates to blindness. This in itself would’ve stopped the average person, made them depressed and hopeless as every day the light becomes a little dimmer until there’s total darkness, but it did not stop Irene. She accepted it through her faith in God and continued to live a life of service to others.
She is small in stature and kind of always reminded me of leprechauns and Santa’s elves because of the constant,merry twinkle in her eyes. I remember taking her to a family reunion as her sight was becoming worse, that as small as she was, and unable to see faces clearly, she insisted on hugging and talking at length to everyone there. The joy she felt radiated from her the entire day like the heat from a furnace. The trip had been a long one for her to make at her age but I have no doubt she remembers that trip to this day.
As her eyesight got progressively worse she still never complained and refused to be coddled or catered to. She was, as many of her generation still are, determined to live an independent life. The generation from which she came knew nothing of being coddled by others or blaming their plight on anyone else. Unfortunately, one morning she decided to cook her own breakfast, which since she had lived in the same house for 30+ years, eyesight or not, she knew her way around the house and the kitchen. For her, at this point, the light had turned almost completely to darkness and she did not notice that her bathrobe had caught fire from the stove. By the time help that arrived she had second and third-degree burns from her chest to her knees and was rushed to the hospital.
Now again the story takes an inspirational, faithful, motivational turn. Most people at this point having lost almost all their eyesight and suffering from severe burns, and unbearable pain would have given up. Not Irene, she forced her way through numerous skin graft operations and rehabilitation with that same unstoppable twinkle in her eye and faith in her God. I have met many people who have positive attitudes, and some who claim to, but believe me my aunt Irene is the definition of faith and motivation by keeping a positive attitude.
I visited her not long after she came home from her rehabilitation from the burns she had suffered and I still saw that wonderful, beautiful, twinkle in her eye and the smile on her face that seemed to be a permanent fixture. Although I’m sure she could no longer see me she insisted on giving me a bear hug and a kiss on the cheek and wanted to know everything about me and my family. Although she had been through all this trauma and pain she was still the vibrant, beautiful soul that I had known her to be all my life.
This story has not yet ended, recently she suffered a stroke which left her partially disabled on one side. Many would think because she is in her 80s that this might be the last straw for her, I on the other hand, believe that if God Almighty is willing, and not ready to take her home, because as far as I’m concerned no one deserves to be at his side more than she does, I believe she will once again prove through her faith and determination that no matter what your age, no matter what you have suffered, with God’s help she will still recover, and I am certain of one thing, if she does, the next time I see her I will still see that wonderful, beautiful sparkle in her eyes, and it is there because she knows that her Savior and her God are right there at her side and always will be.
I wrote this four years ago, the Lord has decided she should be with him today,(9/15/2016) and no one I have ever met deserves the reward of Heaven more. But then again, maybe God wanted to experience that joy she always seemed exude and gaze upon that glorious twinkle in her eye.