When I started this blog in late November 2008, my focus was on featuring stories of strong women since that is my brand.
So many of the stories that other authors shared with me are too outstanding to lie unread in my archive. So once a month I’m going to feature one of these authors and their latest book.
Here’s Author Anna Schmidt from December 16, 2008.
“I could not have been more delighted when Lyn invited me to stop by her blog and post my thoughts on STRONG WOMEN BRAVE STORIES. The problem I ran into was trying to choose which woman in my life – fictional or real – to write about! I have been so privileged to be surrounded by many strong women throughout my life – women who have inspired me and given me the courage to face whatever came my way. Women who have become the models for my heroines.
I finally chose my oldest sister, Patsy. Patsy is more than a decade older than I am and her life in so many ways has been far more challenging than my own. Without going into details I have watched (and hopefully supported her) as she faced a devastating divorce, three grown children each with problems that tested her patience and her financial reserves, the need to work and attend graduate school so she could build a career in teaching in order to support herself (and those children), years that should have been her time to explore her dreams and follow her adventures when she put it all on hold for others, and then finally the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. As the disease took hold, she was forced to give up her home and move into a care center. For awhile she was able to maintain herself independently within that community, but then she suffered a series of falls – leading to head trauma and brain injury. Today she lives in a nursing center, spends her days in a wheelchair and has reached the point where she must be fed, dressed and otherwise attended by others. The falls robbed her of her ability to make sense of things, recognize people, state her needs.
Because I live half a country away from her, my visits are infrequent (and speaking to her via phone or e-mail is not possible). So when I go to visit – as I did several weeks ago – I always prepare myself for the possibility that she will not know me. This was such a visit. It was clear to me that she was drawn to me, but could not put to mind exactly who I was. And yet we had a wonderful visit. We shared laughter and conversation (much of it making little sense). But as I looked past the gibberish into the eyes and the smile and the mischievous little grin that has always been her trademark, I knew that whatever the outer shell might be saying to others, my sister was in there. They brought her tray and I prepared to feed her, but an aide warned, “She won’t let you do that. She only lets us feed her.” The spoon was already halfway to Patsy’s lips so I went ahead and offered it. She took a bite. I asked if she wanted to try some milk. She nodded. And step by step we shared a connection through the simple act of one sister feeding the other. At the end of the meal when I had to leave I took out a piece of Godiva chocolate I had been saving for her. I offered it to her and the expression on her face when she tasted that delectable treat after the bland tastelessness of her regular fare was priceless. I laughed. She laughed. And she looked at me then and said, “So, what’s Larry been up to?”
Larry is my husband.
She knew me – maybe for only an instant – but an instant can be enough. I told her about a fishing trip my husband and I had shared. She laughed and when I left and bent to kiss her forehead, tears leaked down her cheeks – as they always do every time I visit her – whether she knows me or not. This is my sister – a strong woman whose story did not end happily ever after, but a brave woman who has faced incredible challenges and can still laugh, still relish the sweet taste of chocolate, still reassure her little sister with a look, a comment and tears when parting. My holiday wish for all of you is that you cherish the women in your life who, like Patsy, have made you stronger and braver. They are indeed the best possible gift! Happy holidays! Anna Schmidt