By Allison Kilbride, Girls Unlimited Facilitator
I don’t know what “normal” is, but whatever it is, my family was far from it. I had a father and a mother and two sisters. That’s pretty “normal” in my mind. But, when I was eight years old, my father had an accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. He became a quadriplegic and that is when the word “normal” no longer applied to my life.
In one morning our lives were turned upside-down. Our house had to be totally redesigned, and my mother had to take a leave of absence from work. And my Dad? In a split second he stopped being the Dad who could take me on bike rides or swim with me in the ocean. My Dad couldn’t do anything.
On the other side of the coin, my mother had to do EVERYTHING. She became more of a caretaker than a wife. She gave him showers, dressed him, fed him, and took care of every single one of his needs. Plus, she had three little girls who needed their mother’s attention. This life was not what she expected when she said, “I do.”
My amazing mom didn’t crumble. Instead, she became a strong, brave and noble woman who would do anything for her husband and kids.
When I was sixteen, tragedy struck again. My dad died. My sisters and I were devastated. Even though he couldn’t do much physically, he still loved us and we loved him. We all relied on my mother’s strength to get us through the hard times that come when you lose someone you love. I was terrified my family would fall apart, but the opposite happened. We all grew closer together, and we learned together about what is most important in life.
Through all the tragedy, Mom found time to be my biggest fan. I was badly bullied in middle school, and she went to bat for me with the school and the bully’s family. This loving support continued all the way through high school and college. I could list a million ways she was involved with my life, but you’d get pretty bored reading that list. I’ll just say she has been at my side through good times and bad, helping me grow into the ambitious, but caring person I am today.
As I write this I live in Boston, five hours away from Mom. With her encouragement I applied to graduate school. I am homesick, but she helps me through it. I talk to her every day, and she encourages me to keep following my dreams.
My mom could easily have given up on life, and she could have let me do the same. Instead, she encouraged me to fight harder, grow stronger and remember what is most important. Most of all, she has taught me to look for happiness within myself instead of expecting others to make me happy. My role model in life is no further than a heartstring away. I love you MOM!