There are several sayings that speak of the power of the human mind to overcome adversity. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” “It’s just a question of mind over matter.”
Over the years, I’ve heard of plenty of examples of this being true. Pope John Paul II, very old and frail, lived until after Easter. Many sick or elderly people live to celebrate an important milestone, such as a birthday and, anniversary and so forth.
Most recently, I heard of a little girl who desperately wanted to see the movie “Up,” but she was very ill. The studio sent a representative to her home, with a special DVD for her and her family to watch. The girl sat through the movie, her mother describing it to her, as she was then blind. The little girl passed away in her sleep that night.
I happen to know a young woman, who is quite the living example of this principle. Some years ago, she received a diagnosis of severe systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). By diagnosis, SLE damaged her heart and other vital organs.
Her physician said she would not live to see her daughter, then in kindergarten, graduate middle school. Well, she wasn’t about to sit still for that! She had learned from her feisty old grandmother that a lot of what goes on in her body had to do with attitude.
Even as the disease began to wear her body down, a stroke, a heart attack, bones weakened by years of steroids and medications, her mind was strong and focused. She had but one thought uppermost in her mind: she would be there for her daughter and give her a good childhood.
Sometimes the pain grew nearly intolerable. She kept at it. She kept moving, kept finding new ways of getting around.
Her physician was amazed. At one point, she said, “I have patients with better test results than you that are bedridden! How do you do it?”
Her reply was short and to the point, “By not giving up.”
The years rolled by. Her health continued to decline. She had to cut back on work, change jobs and finally stop working altogether.
She needed a scooter to get around. Then she needed an electric wheelchair. Chronic pain and fatigue became daily occurrences; just, “One of those things” that she dealt with on a regular basis, and did so without complaint.
Then came that most special of days: her daughter graduated from middle school. The family threw a party and not just for the daughter. No, this was a celebration of life!
The young woman had beaten the odds. She made liars of her physicians. She showed what one person could do if they but put their minds to it.
Having a goal is but a single piece to the puzzle. When you’re doing something, as an act of love, it becomes all the easier. A few years later, the daughter graduated high school, and went off to college.
Now this woman talks of being there when her daughter gets her diploma, gets her master’s degree, walks down the aisle to marry and being there to see her grandchildren grow up. I plan to be there too; the dear woman is my wife.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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