One of my favorite things is the unexpected. The person who has been dismissed, a judgment made, and then all expectations are shattered. Lady GaGa did that with the Oscars the other night. Some already knew that her voice is an incredibly well trained instrument, but many looked at those silly red rubber dishwashing gloves, and that was that. Man, she showed up in the best way.
My mother's birthday is today. She's a small woman, and she always has been. If ever there was an illustration of the quote, "Though she be but little, she be fierce" (William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"), Momma is it. She has no problem at all with telling you exactly what she thinks, and good luck.
But wrapped in that small package is also a depth of compassion that took her through years of being a nurse at the Women's Prison, through the years of AIDS at a prison, and her husband's dementia.
She has a story about hugging a prisoner who was dying of AIDS:
“You know back then, AIDS had just started out. It was just getting to be well known, and we had a lot of prisoners to come in there that had a positive AIDS test. And we had to put them in isolation. And we had three inmates that died at Women’s Prison from AIDS. We had to go in there and wait on them. And I think the hardest thing that I've ever done was I went in the room one day to check on one of them, that was dying and she wanted me to hug her neck and I didn't want her tears on me, because we still weren't sure about how you caught it. But I sat down and I let her hug my neck because she just wanted to touch somebody. Her family couldn't come see her. Those were some tough times. But you do what you have to do.”
Momma has a tolerance and an acceptance. Her last sentence actually illustrates beautifully her life philosophy, “But you do what you have to do.” She doesn't look at taking care of the ill or dying as something horrible to flee from. She simply does it.
She's one of the quiet many who have helped the world. You may look at her and see a small older woman. I look at her, and I see my hero. Happy Birthday, Momma. We love you very much. Thank you for the lessons in how best to live a life.