One of the strongest influences on my life was my sister, Mary. She was quite a bit older than me, and a strong feminist. To her, a feminist was someone who cared about other women. Not a militant force intent on promoting all things female over all things male, as some have categorized feminists. She truly cared about the plight of women, whether it be domestic abuse or illiteracy or discrimination.
Mary attended college and received her bachelors degree in nursing. As an RN, she chose to join the US Army and was stationed in Germany. After her tour of duty, she came back to Minnesota and taught nursing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
She never married, but loved children. In her 40s, she headed back to school at the University of Minnesota to pursue her masters degree in nurse midwifery. She 'caught' over 300 babies in her career as a midwife, and kept a scrapbook with a photo of each one of them.
She was well loved by her clients, many of who became lifelong friends.
In the late '90s, she was diagnosed with an extremely rare blood disease. She was given six months to live. And I was devastated. She'd taught me so many things. I learned about eating organic and natural foods from her, how to make ice cream, how to drive a stick shift. It seemed impossible that I would lose her. I always imagined we'd grow old together.
She didn't take the diagnosis lying down. She researched every possible treatment and cure, chemical and herbal, spiritual and physical. She moved to Oregon for a time because a doctor there was performing experimental treatments. When that failed, she moved in with friends in Zuni, New Mexico.
If you've ever been to that part of the world, you'll know what a beautiful and raw land it is. The Zuni people are Native Americans whose main source of income is the beautiful silver and turquoise jewelry they create.
She lived there with the couple who were the pueblo's physicians, and their four children. She dedicated her time to educating the people on healthy lifestyles during pregancy and nutrition and care of infants and children. I visited her there, and saw how close she'd become to the residents. And how much she loved every day of her life there. One morning, she didn't wake up. It had been nearly three years after she'd been diagnosed. Two and a half years after she was supposed to be gone.
I miss her every day, and often feel her touch and her guidance in my struggles. When I think of women who have achieved incredible things in their lives, I think of Mary, who in her small but urgent way, made such a difference in so many people's lives. Especially mine.
Thanks for stopping by today!
Secret Vegas Lives
Scandalous L.A. Desires
both available from The Wild Rose Press