Local “Profiles in Courage”

Local “Profiles in Courage”

In a 9-week basic research skills class, the freshmen students at Routt Catholic High School completed several research projects. In examining courage, the students came to realize that courageous people who inspire us, challenge us, and encourage us to live a life of strength, wisdom, and perseverance surround us. They also concluded that we often do not take the time to thank and praise the courageous among us. Through individual interview, each student wrote and presented an essay on a person of courage. Here are some of the student essays for your reading pleasure; here is our small way of saying thank you.

Working for Life: The Battle of Becky Russotto

By: Claire Russotto

Imagine hearing the worse three words, “You have cancer.” Imagine having to juggle chemo and take care of your family. Imagine having to care for two young girls when all you want to do is break down. Rebecca Russotto was going through all of this at just age 45. She was diagnosed on Friday, September 14, 2001 with stage one breast cancer. Every day she had to put aside the pain and put a smile on her face so her children would not be scared. Rebecca Russotto is a courageous woman.

When asked if she found herself as a person of courage, Mrs. Russotto said that she did because of her breast cancer and double mastectomy in 2001. Following that question, she defined courage as “facing a challenge even when you are afraid.” What Mrs. Russotto said could also relate to Nelson Mandela’s words when he said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”

Mrs. Russotto was at home on Friday, September 14, 2001 when her husband came home from the hospital with her biopsy results. Sadly, her husband, Doctor Russotto, had to tell her that she did have breast cancer. When the cancer was found, Mrs. Russotto had stage one breast cancer, but fortunately there was “no lymph node involvement which means that the cancer had not spread to any surrounding issue,” she said. Her treatment started in October and ended in December of that same year. During this difficult time, Mrs. Russotto would lean on her friends and family. They would watch her children, bring food so she would not have to cook, help around the house, and just be there when she needed a shoulder to cry on.

Every three weeks Mrs. Russotto had treatments. She stated, “Every time I felt like I was getting better, I would have to go back to treatment. It was like the flu.” The physical feeling was not pleasant to her, but it always made her feel as if she was doing something to fight the cancer. She had a good attitude about it. A lot of people feel angry with God when something terrible happens, but Mrs. Russotto was not upset with God. She said that she was just scared, and she always was wondering why it happened to her when she had the responsibility to care for two little girls. To help cope, she went to the rosary devotion at church on Monday nights, which left her feeling stronger, more hopeful, and at peace.

Today, Becky Russotto is going on her thirteenth year of being cancer free. Being cancer free made her feel like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She said that she still worried that the cancer would come back whenever an unfamiliar pain struck her, but today, it is all behind her. Mrs. Russotto had the courage to fight and not give up. She kept a positive attitude and had the confidence to talk about it. She is a courageous woman and role model.

Courage Put to the Test

By: Carly Schwiderski

Courage isn’t something that you’re born with. It isn’t something that you find lying around. To Ann Jurgens, “Courage is when someone shows strength during adversity.” My aunt’s life changed forever on February 3, 1985 when she was blessed with twins; however they were three months premature. Although this began her courageous journey, it was 25 years later, when her only son died, that her courage was put to the test.

My cousin Joshua was born weighing less than two pounds. To many this may seem odd, but to my aunt, it was a reality. Josh was born three months early, making him and his sister both premature. According to Ann, “…Josh was a good kid, and he never fussed.” Sadly, on March 26, 2010, Josh’s life ended when his organs shut down, due to his cerebral palsy. When this challenge had first occurred, it was hard for Ann and her family. Now she still sees it as one of the most difficult times in her life, but it has become easier. Over time, she has realized it was for the best, and it was his turn to go live with God.

Strength is also a huge part in Ann’s life. This hardship has shown her that she can handle anything that comes her way because Ann knows she is strong. Ann’s strength has come from her son, and she uses this strength every day. She is a nurse who works hard, knowing she is helping other families while doing something she loves, healing others.

Healing from a surgery or a broken bone takes a couple weeks. However, healing and mourning a death of a loved one takes a lifetime. Ann has felt that there is a missing part in her life that she knows will never change. “Taking time and letting my feelings come through is what I have done. If I have a sad day, that’s okay! Josh wouldn’t want me to be sad anyway.”

Prayer is special in many lives today. If Ann has a bad day, she prays. She likes to pray in quiet. “It’s just me and prayer.” She also relies on others to help her through those bad days and her good days, too. The Jurgens family likes to bring up funny stories that they remember about Josh. “He’s the one who gave us courage because he was the one who endured it.”

Through the death of her only son, Ann has found grief, but also admiration towards her son. To her, Josh was an admirable person because he handled everything around him so well, and he never complained. As time progressed, Ann also began to admire her daughter, Jessica. “Jessie has always continued being herself and being a whipper-snapper.” Jessica’s attitude and personality help Ann get through everything. These times have been rough on the Jurgens family, but these times have made my aunt stronger. She has felt that missing piece inside her, but Ann also knows she can still have a good life. She has become more aware of what is most important.

I believe my aunt is a very courageous person – for herself, but also for her husband and daughter. When asked if she saw herself as a person of courage, there was a long pause. She finally replied, “Yes, I see myself as a person of courage because I have pushed through all the illnesses that the kids have been through.” It doesn’t seem that four years have already passed by without Josh in my family’s life. However, we all know it was for the best, and that he would want all of us to be eternally happy even though he’s not physically with us.

The Loss of a Lifetime: Jan Fellhauer’s Fight to Stay Strong

By: Madi Fellhauer

“Courage would be the strength to do something when everything seems like a tall mountain that you must overcome. Courage is the strength to overcome.” In the early morning on July 14, 2008, Jan Fellhauer got the worst news of her life. Her oldest daughter Suzan had died at the age of 36 while in Jamaica for her wedding and honeymoon. The day she died was two days before her wedding when she became devastatingly sick, very quickly. Jan crowded around her teary-eyed family to break the news to Suzan’s two little daughters who were eight and five. To Jan, this was not only the loss of a life but also the loss of her lifetime.

Never seeing herself as a person of courage, Jan says she thinks her life has been challenging, but she has never considered herself courageous. “You just have to trust in God and people during challenging times,” Jan states. The death of her daughter was the hardest period of her life “because Suzan was the daughter and I was the mother, and daughters are supposed to get to grow up to do good things.” Even though Suzan was 36, Jan meant that she wanted her daughter to be able to live her life fully and raise her girls. Jan fondly remembers Suzan by her work as a speech pathologist, working with all different kinds of kids, including under-privileged and special needs children.

“It was hard on her dad. It was the hardest on the (Suzan’s) two daughters. I can always remember the youngest, Tori, trying to call her mom on the telephone because she didn’t believe her mom was gone.” Jan also says it was hard on her other daughter Kim, Suzan’s sister, and her husband. She then corrects herself by saying, “I wouldn’t use the word hard. There’s where I would use the word courage.” She talks about how her two daughters had made a promise to each other to take care of one another’s kids if something ever happened to one of them. “Kim had always said she wanted two little boys and two little girls, but I knew she never wanted them this way…by losing her sister.”

When asked how this situation affected her job, Jan responded by saying that it did at the time. She had a wonderful, understanding boss. Because it was quite a shock, her head was spinning. She didn’t want to go anywhere, she didn’t want to talk to anyone, and she didn’t want to be around others. She just wanted to hide. Work still got done, just not as fast; her boss really helped out and understood. Jan said she felt certainly bad for her two granddaughters and Suzan’s dad. “I really felt bad for anyone who knew Suzan.”

“I didn’t cry at first. I didn’t cry. I did later at the funeral.” This was Jan’s response to the question, “How did you deal with this hard time?” “I knew she was gone and thought about it every day and still look at her picture on my nightstand every day when I wake up and every night before I go to bed, and I just ask God why. Then I get this peace feeling. One day I will get my answer.” Also, Jan tried to stay very busy. She stayed with Kim and her two granddaughters. At first, she says, she tried to hide; then she would try to keep busy. She would add on more work. She still does today, yet she says it’s really not hard anymore. She always tries to be there for Suzan’s girls and to always remind them of their mom.

Jan says that family and friends, especially Kim, helped her to fight through the loss. It helped knowing that there was somebody there to fill-in, not to take their mom’s place, but to fill-in the hole of a missing mom. “I would have taken the girls in a heartbeat, but they needed young parents and they have two of the best they can.”

When I asked Jan if she had any regrets on how she dealt with the situation, she responded by saying, “No. I know I would do the same thing again.” She remembers just wanting to be where Suzan’s daughters, her granddaughters, were – to tell them it would be okay. She had to be strong. “This is probably why I didn’t cry, so they wouldn’t see me and cry.”

“Absolutely. Everyday. Things happen every day that remind me of Suzan and the things she and Kim did together.” She recalls that Suzan was always protective over Kim. Jan told me that every day that she gets up, before she goes to bed, in every prayer, every time she passes through the hallway and looks at her pictures, she tells Suzan that her girls are okay. She says, “It may sound silly, but I talk to her. I tell her she would be proud of the girls and the things they do. She was the one who taught them all the basics.” In conclusion, Jan says, “I don’t need to tell to her she would be proud because I know she is watching from heaven.”

When I asked Jan what her reflection was looking back and seeing how this horrible situation has helped her or others around her, she said it has made her a stronger person. She says it makes a person stop, think, and know not to take life for granted. “Life isn’t what we always plan it to be, but it’s what God planned. Sometimes things may seem bad, but we have to believe it’s all for the best. We have to try to understand. And one day we will.”

Jan is a mother that lost a daughter. Kim is a sister who lost a sibling. Tori is a little girl who lost a mother. I am the other little girl who not only lost her mother, but her role model, her teacher, and her best friend. Through love, understanding, family, faith, and prayer, we all stick together to make it work. Jan is the glue to our fight, and she helps us to survive the loss of a lifetime.

A Courageous Person: Tori Babbs

By: Billie Wooldridge

Have you ever thought about not having that one person you’re supposed to be able to run to for anything? Think about not having a mom because she died of cancer. Think about losing a baby brother because he was premature. Think about living with a brother with a disability, cerebral palsy. My cousin, Tori Babbs, has courageous faced all of these troubles throughout her everyday life.

Tori Babbs, a freshman in college, considers herself a courageous person. She is not afraid to try new things and learn from her mistakes. Tori explains that a courageous person is someone who is not afraid to chase their dreams and can stand up for what they believe in, no matter what others may think. Though Tori does not have that one person she is supposed to run to for anything, she knows her mom is not there with her physically, but she is present spiritually. Tori does explain one of her pet peeves; she is bothered when she hears a kid say they hate their mom or she sees the child disrespect their mom. “I would do anything to have my mom here with me.”

How would your life change if your sibling had a disability, such as cerebral palsy? Tori explains that this has made her realize at an early age that people with disabilities are just like everyone else. Tori said, “My brother is the strongest person I know.” Having a brother with a disability has shown Tori how lucky she is to have a brother who fights through challenges on a daily basis, but doesn’t give up.

Tori has a weakness every day, but she also has strengths. She explains that she takes everything to heart and can get upset over the littlest things. Tori says she is not afraid to say how she feels, and yes, she does stand up for what she believes in. “Any problem, hardship, or difficulty can make you stronger.” Tori feels that she looks at her life completely different than other people her age do. “I know not to take people for granted because the next day the person could be gone. Also, I try to make people happy and make their lives easier because I know what it is like to hit rock bottom.”

Tori is now a college student, but she knows that her friends in high school watch over her brother. She makes sure her brother knows that she is there for him. Tori explains that she encourages everyone to treat him like everyone else because he wants to be treated just as everyone else is. My cousin admits that she does sometimes try to take the mother role for her brother, but she has to learn to let him do things on his own. “I want the very best for my brother,” says Tori.

Have you thought about living your life with no mom? Have you thought about having a brother with cerebral palsy? Tori Babbs has courage to wake up every day and face life’s challenges.

The Courage that is Needed

By: Erica Lay

Imagine being told your son has a type of cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For Patricia Hobson, this became a reality. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a cancer of the blood and can affect any organ in the body. Her son, Ben Hobson, who was diagnosed with this type of cancer, has the cancer mainly located in his bone marrow. This news changed Patricia’s life forever.

“Courage is trying to keep a positive attitude; courage is continuing on when you want to quit,” said Patricia Hobson. When Ben was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on December 7, 2013, Patricia almost passed out when the doctors told her the news. “All the blood rushed from my head, and I thought I was going to faint or be sick,” said Patricia. After the news, she told Ben that they were going to get through the cancer, and that the type of cancer he has is curable. She also told me that the survival rate of acute lymphoblastic leukemia is 85 to 95 percent.

Ben receives many treatments for his cancer. He gets chemotherapy through a port in his chest. Ben also receives a lumbar puncture that injects chemo medicine into his spinal fluid. Patricia told me that Ben would be having radiation put to his head for a series of ten days, so that any cancer cells can be wiped out. Ben has been battling cancer for almost a year, and he is still going strong.

Patricia named many supports that help her get through going to treatments with Ben. Some things that assist her include: God, praying, having faith in the doctors and the medicine, reading about kids who are fighting or who have survived cancer.

Ben’s cancer has affected the Hobson family greatly. “It has changed our existence and life,” remarked Patricia. Ben cannot do many of the things he used to be able to do. Ben cannot go to school or walk in a store for very long because his endurance is a lot lower than it used to be. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia has affected Patricia Hobson and her family emotionally and financially. She told me that she wonders constantly, “Will the treatments work?” Ben’s cancer will continue to affect the Hobson family as they continue on their journey.

I asked Patricia Hobson if she had any advice for patients that are battling cancer. She said, “Stay positive, spend much time with family members, never give up, fight the fight, believe in the doctors, and put it in God’s hands.” This advice can inspire people who are not just going through the struggles of cancer but those who are going through other difficult times. Patricia Hobson is one of the most courageous people I know, and I am very proud to call her my aunt.

Unite, Fight, Beat: Ben Hobson’s Fight with Cancer

By: Alex Hobson

Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Ben Hobson, at the age of twelve, realized what courage was when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Now, almost a year since the diagnosis, we look back on his triumph over fear in the first year of treatment and the continuing courage he needs for two more years.

When asked what kind of symptoms Ben had, he said, “I had joint pain in my knees and in my elbows.” Ben was having this joint pain on a trip out to the East coast with his grandparents and his brother. When the pain got unbearable on the trip back to Illinois, a stop at a children’s hospital in Kentucky was made, where Ben’s parents met them. Tests were run, and the results were unknown. Ben received the diagnosis on December 7, 2013. This affected everyone in Ben’s life. He could not go to school, he had to stay away from people, and he was stuck in the hospital for three months. When asked when he needed the most courage thus far, Ben replied, “At the beginning because it is scary for anyone to hear they have cancer.” I asked Ben how his caregivers help him. “The doctor gives me medicine for treatment, the nurses make me comfortable when I have to stay, and my mom and the rest of my family give me love and keep positive.”

Ben defines courage in this way: “Courage is to do things that seem scary or that you don’t want to do. At first when the doctors suggested me getting a port I was scared because of the surgery I had to go through to get the port put in.” Ben did finally get a port and is no longer scared of it. When I asked him if it took courage to fight cancer, he said, “Yes, because there are a lot of medicines that have side effects and complicated procedures that you have to go through to get completely cancer free.”

Today Ben is feeling well with only two years of treatment left to go. What helps Ben get through this challenge in his life? “My mom, my family, and, of course, God.” When asked how cancer affected his life, Ben replied, “My life is not normal. I would change that I have cancer because the medicine makes me sick, and I don’t want any more procedures done. I want to get to school and have a normal life.”

Courage? Ben has courage to fight cancer, to not go to school when he wants to, to go through this treatment. By uniting and fighting with courage, my brother Ben can beat cancer.

Like Father, Like Son

By: Brennan Moore

Time. Something you might not have as a member of the Armed Forces. Missing your daughter’s first birthday, missing the birth of your son. Mike Morrow missed these things when he was deployed to Afghanistan. His faith and family got him through this tough chapter in his life. Mike had to be courageous to leave family behind while being deployed. Mike Morrow is a courageous person. When asked if he thought he was courageous, Mike said he did because in his life he has tried and failed many times, but has bounced back a better person than ever before.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear,” meaning we must stand up to fear with courage when we know something is morally wrong. Mike enlisted in the Illinois Air National Guard (United States Air Force) on September 29, 2005. He saw the life it provided him for growing up, and he decided he could use the discipline. His father, Bill Morrow, was the person he considered to be a courageous person because Bill had served in the Guard for twenty-seven years. Bill’s first deployment (out of three) made him miss Mike’s first birthday. When I asked Mike if he were to start over, would he choose the same path, he responded, “Absolutely. Joining the military was by far the best choice I have ever made.”

God helped Mike get through Afghanistan so he could return home safely to be with his family. Faith and family are Mike’s kryptonite; they are also how he dealt so well with being away from his family for so long. He tried to see the big picture of what a member of the Armed Forces entails – defending America and what it believes in, such as freedom, opposition to genocide, antislavery.

Today, Mike is currently a member of the Illinois Air National Guard (USAF). Mike has experienced what it is like being deployed in another country and being away from your family for long periods of time; only a courageous person can handle it. Mike Morrow is an excellent role model and a true patriot. And to be a patriot, you have to be a courageous person, building “dikes of courage.”

Man of Courage: Odell Fellhauer

By: Alex Anderson

Imagine being told that you just got drafted. Imagine moving away from your family, friends, and home. This is what Odell Fellhauer had to go through when he found out he was being drafted into the Army.

When Mr. Fellhauer was asked what his definition of courage was, he said, “Someone who has the will, desire, and ability to do anything he can for a just cause.” Following that question, he was asked if he found himself to be a courageous person. He states, “Courage and dedication go hand-in-hand. I am the kind of person that if I believe in something and I make up my mind that I’m going to do something, I don’t give up. In your life you’re going to find obstacles and you’re just going to have to keep going and overcome them.”

Odell was 21 years old when he was drafted. “I grew up knowing that everybody who was physically capable of becoming a member of the military had that as part of their life plan, or at least should have it in their life plan. So I had prepared for it,” he says. Fellhauer trained in the United States, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to be exact, for 19 months prior to being stationed in Germany.

Mr. Fellhauer’s purpose for being in Germany was to protect the Berlin Wall. American troops were on the west side of the Berlin Wall to help protect their ally, West Germany, from the communist invasion of their enemy, East Germany. In the artillery division of the Army, Odell climbed the ladder very quickly, becoming a platoon sergeant in a matter of months. He taught artillery survey to ally troops from Belgium, Italy, and Germany. “I was in the field a lot…not in a barrack. I lived in a tent and slept on a cot,” said Fellhauer. He recalls being cold and hungry in “the fields of the forgotten in Germany.”

For Odell Fellhauer the most difficult part of serving his country was giving up his family and friends, and being in a strange country. Odell’s aunt, whom he was very close to, died while he was over in Germany. As he recalled not being allowed to return to the United States for her funeral, it was as though he was receiving the disappointing news all over again. The regret could be heard in Fellhauer’s voice and could be seen in his eyes as he continued. Odell says this was very tough for him, but he understood that it was a sacrifice he had to make.

When Fellhauer returned to Jacksonville, Illinois, after completing his service, life threw him another curveball; his employer was no longer there. He overcame this obstacle and was hired as a firefighter for the State Hospital. Odell enjoyed being back in a free country that was familiar to him. Having been made a very attractive offer including a bonus, Fellhauer considered re-enlisting in the Army. However, it was not a commitment that he wanted to make at that time in his life. Odell really felt like he wanted to meet someone and start a family.

Although being drafted was something Odell Fellhauer had prepared for, it still took a great among of courage. Odell said goodbye to family and friends, and gave up his everyday freedoms to help ensure the freedoms of others. If that doesn’t describe “someone who has the will, desire, and ability to do anything he can for a just cause,” I don’t know what does.

Courageous Loss

By: Annalise Wright

“The vows of marriage are ‘for better or for worse, till death do us part.’ Well, we made it all the way through, through good times and bad,” says Robert Owens, who lost his wife and daughter in the same summer. Robert (we call him Bud) has been a neighbor for many years and a close family friend.

Through all of life’s challenges, he never looked down but kept moving forward. Robert (Bud) Owens is a very courageous man.

“When I was in the Navy, someone with courage would be a person who would go past their limits and even put their own life in jeopardy for someone else,” states Robert. When asked if he thought he was a person of courage, he answered, “No, I don’t believe I’m anything special without the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing is impossible with him.”

When I asked Robert how he felt when his wife and daughter died, he said, “I felt joy and sadness at the same time; they were with the Lord and out of pain. I knew they were being taken care of.” Robert’s daughter, Autumn, had a lot of seizures when she was young which caused her to become mute. Joyce, his wife, became ill and had Alzheimer’s. “On the wall in our room, I saw the shape of an angel; it almost looked like it was so real that you could touch it. It had no face, though. When it appeared, Joyce took two breaths, then was gone into heaven.”

“My faith in God, you and your grandparents, the helpers that I have and friends have all helped me through this time,” Robert said. When I asked him if he could say anything to his wife and daughter, what it would be, Mr. Owens replied, “That I love them.” Mr. Owens shared how he and his wife loved each other for 57 years…”and we never stopped.” To his daughter, he said, “I would tell her that she’s free from the shackles that bound her in life.”

According to Mr. Owens, “Death is a graduation for every born again Christian. There is no downside, and it is guaranteed.” For Robert, losing his loved ones didn’t mean that they were gone forever, but for a short time. They were freed from not being able to speak and from Alzheimer’s. He knows that very soon he will see them again.

Standing Up for what is Right

By: Dalton Pressey

Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” What if you were bullied so much only you could stand up for yourself? Imagine standing in front of an entire school telling others how you were bullied. That’s what Cheyenne Pressey had to do to make a difference. After being bullied so much that she had to go to the hospital for severe depression, Cheyenne eventually stood up in front of the entire student body and had the courage to tell others of her experience. Cheyenne Pressey is a person of courage.

When I asked Cheyenne how she would define courage, she said, “Being able to stand up for people others wouldn’t.” Following that question, I asked her if she thought of herself as a courageous person. Cheyenne said she did because she had to stand up and tell other about what happened to her during her time of being bullied. Cheyenne’s action to stand up for what she believes is right could relate to Ronald Reagan who said, “We must have the courage to do what is morally right.”

Cheyenne was bullied due to differences. She didn’t wear the same clothes; she didn’t look the same like the other girls. She was a black sheep in their eyes. When asked if she took any actions to stand up for herself when the bullying started, she said, “I stood up for other people knowing the bullies would hurt me. I was fine with this because I would rather be harmed than other people.” After she returned from the hospital, Cheyenne talked to the school principal about speaking in front of the student body.

I asked Cheyenne if she saw any change within the school after her courageous actions. She said that she did see change; the bullying wasn’t as bad, but it was still lingering. She said she was happy after the speech because she felt like everything could be off her shoulders. When asked if she forgave her bullies and if it affected others around her, Cheyenne stated, “It didn’t really affect other around me because I never said it out loud. The bullies never personally asked me to forgive them, but if they would, I would tell them that they shouldn’t hold it against themselves.”

Today, Cheyenne is 14 years old and attending Routt Catholic High School. She says that being able to have the courage to speak really changed her self-image for the better. When I asked if she knew if the change she made was still being held up today, she didn’t know. But she knows for sure that some people were truly changed by her actions. Cheyenne Pressey didn’t step down; she stood up. Cheyenne Pressey is a courageous person and a positive influence to victims of bullying.

Personal Obstacles + Humble Human Being = COURAGE

By: Molly Schmidt

Courage. It’s a very important virtue and one that not many people believe they have. Courage is something that can be acquired. I believe as time goes on in one’s life, other people can inspire you and provide the strength you need to get through any situation. One of those people in particular is my grandmother.

When I asked my grandma her definition of courage, she replied, “Being able to overcome the obstacles you meet in your life.” My grandma does not consider herself a courageous person, but her family and friends would disagree with her! She is a very humble person and, as I go further with this interview essay, you will see what I am talking about.

Imagine being an only child and losing your father at the age of twelve. Losing your parents is one of the toughest challenges you will have to go through in your life, but it was especially difficult for my grandma. “I didn’t realize the loneliness of being an only child until I had to face different family problems and crises. My mother and I became extremely close after the passing of my father. It was just the two of us facing the day to day challenges.” When asked how she dealt with the loss of her father, she said, “I learned to be very strong with the loss of my dad because my mom was such a strong person; I think I got my courage from her.”

The next huge challenge in my grandmother’s life was when her husband was drafted into the Navy and sent overseas for six months at a time. My grandpa was a pilot in the Navy and was stationed on an aircraft carrier. As my later-to-be grandmother was adjusting to her husband being gone, she was also expecting their first child. When asked how she got through this period in her life, my grandmother said, “I had my mother at home with me, so that helped.” At this point in her life, she never imagined that she might lose her mother in the next couple of years.

Believe it or not, a year after my grandma had her first daughter, her mother was diagnosed with a heart condition; she died a short time later. “The loss of my mother affected me greatly because I had become so close to her. I then had to lean on my husband and my daughter for the support and strength to keep going.” She stated, “I learned to focus my thoughts and energy on the two closest people in my life.” This was a very difficult time in my grandma’s life.

Fast-forward about 50 years; grandma is now facing another

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