Elaine was very tired today. She definitely wore herself out this week. Today is Dee's birthday, and also the anniversary of Ida's death. She died 6 years ago today. Dee and Ida are Fred's parents. Ida was also Elaine's very best friend. Ida battled many different illnesses over the course of her life, nothing more devastating than the loss of her husband at the very young age of 59, to brain cancer.
Ida, like Elaine, was very fortunate to have a family close by that took excellent care of her. Elaine spent the most time with her. I was lucky enough to spend a great deal of time with Grandma Ida, and learned so much from her. She was like my other mom. I spent a lot of time with her when my sister was sick, and then after Grandpa Dee died. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her and miss her. She was an amazing influence on all of our lives, and nothing came before family. She was a woman of values, morals, principals, and her word. She lived her life on her terms, and lived every day to its fullest, no matter how she felt. She also lived alone, despite my parents begging her to move in with them as she got sicker. She wanted her independence. We have talked of her often, and don't know how she managed to do all that she did all those years, alone and sick for a lot of them. She rarely complained, cherished every minute with her family and friends, and no matter what, wasn't going to spend her life in bed or feeling sorry for herself. She will always be one of the most important people in my life, someone I miss every day, and someone I will always look up to and hold in the highest regard.
I have thought about Grandma Ida a lot today. I have thought about how much my mom reminds me of her. Elaine has such a strong fight in her, she refuses to let this, or any number of setbacks beat her. Elaine has bad days, (who among us wouldn't?) but she keeps fighting through them. I have reflected back on how far she has come. This was a woman we were told would never walk again, and two nights ago, she walked with my kids, from my house, to the park. That isn't something she would have even attempted to do two weeks ago. She has been superhuman though all of this. She has accomplished more than we ever thought possible. Sometimes, we lose sight of just how far she has come!
She could easily hole up in her house and feel sorry for herself. She definitely pushes herself too much - in physically therapy and in life. At times, we think she should rest more, which she should, but given the choice, I admire her so much for choosing life! She makes a decision every single day that no matter how much pain she is in, how much her arm or leg hurt, how hard it is to get herself ready, and how much it hurts to just walk, she is going to do it. She isn't going to sit in bed all day and cry, or feel sorry for herself! She cries, but she laughs too. She wants to live life, not sit and wait for the next thing to happen. Grandma Ida was the same way, and while it is not for everyone, I get it. I wish she rested more, but I wish a lot of things, and at the end of the day, Elaine is here with us, she is of sound mind, and is a part of our lives!
As I have had this day of reflection, I have also thought about Fred. There is nothing harder in the world than watching the person you love suffer. They face different challenges every day, both with the same goal of getting Elaine better. I think of how lucky Elaine is to have Fred: her rock, her knight in shining armor, and her caretaker. I think of how lucky Fred is to have Elaine, fighting to get her life back, wanting to take care of him again, and working her butt off to get to be the best she can be.
It is frustrating, and they have been on this roller coaster of ups and downs. At the end of the day though, both Fred and Elaine are better off now than they ever both thought was possible right after the stroke happened. Life is full of ups and downs, and given the alternative of what could have been, I feel so grateful that we are where we are. I know it is because of Elaine's determination, and Fred's love that Elaine has continued to progress and get better every day! It is also thanks to the love and prayers of her family and friends. Thank you!
I have been blessed to have been raised by people of strength, and love, as well as been instilled with a true appreciation of family. I know, Christi, Grandma Ida, Grandpa Dee, Yia-Yia, and Papu are watching down on both of you guys with so much pride and love! It is not possible for two daughters, and two sets of parents to be more proud of you both, than all of us are.
No one ever said the road would be easy, and it certainly hasn't been, but Fred and Elaine continue to travel down it everyday. Their goals are unchanging: they just want to travel down the road making forward progress. Sometimes, it feels like the road is a treadmill and you work so hard to get nowhere. But other times, you finish the New York City Marathon - exhausting work but measurable progress.
Since the end of January, every day hasn't been perfect, but we all know that those days could have been much, much worse. We all know that Elaine and Fred give 110% every single day. There is a proverb that says, "To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, BUT WE MUST KEEP ON STEPPING." That is what Elaine and Fred are doing - they keep stepping. None of us are sure what the destination may be, but we know that the journey (and our spirit along the way) is what defines us.