Sunday, May 9, 2010
She is 88 years old.
She's the strongest woman - no, the strongest person - I've ever met.
...but her stories tell of a young lady full of spirit and drive.
Growing up in Virginia without a dad she was very active - swimming, playing badminton, visiting the family farm...
She went to college majoring in math, but then found her passion in sports.
She played field hockey - a right halfback...
She played basketball and volleyball...
She was a champion archer!
She was a formidable athlete in a day when women were supposed to be shy and unassuming.
I wish I had pictures of her athletic days.
She changed her major to physical education - she coached, she taught.
She decided to go on for her master's degree.
And in this era when people didn't travel much away from home, she chose to go to the best PE program in the country - the University of Wisconsin.
This young lady took the train - all by herself - across the country to Madison Wisconsin...
This was a life altering experience..
After that first game of bridge they spent every day together.
And two years later they got married.
But now someone needed to pay the bills while Dad finished medical school.
So she focussed on working as a coach and a teacher.
One of her academic highlights I want to mention was a big conference on kinesiology - the study of the body in movement - where this young lady was the keynote speaker!
She spoke before hundreds of people on Proprioception - the subject of her Master's thesis. This woman was not shy in the intellectual department!
But Dad's career decided their life's paths.
After medical school, on to New York to internship living in an apartment in Queens.
Then to her surprise he decided to go into pathology - so off to Miami Florida for his residency in the study of disease.
Another life altering experience - in Miami she became a Mother.
Then Nic, who followed a year later.
Finishing residency Dad went on to the prestigious AFIP in Washington to study advanced pathology - one year specializing in lymph nodes and one year in skin pathology.
Here Mom appropriately gave birth to their child future pathologist, me.
Wanting to get back to the midwest, Dad took a job in the backwater of small town Indiana where they gave him a 2 room lab and a bunsen burner. He and Mom worked together - taking no salaries some months so they could buy more equipment and hire more workers and built it up to be an outstanding hospital laboratory.
Two more kids - Ed and Chris - and Mom had her hands full.
Sports had faded in her background as her energy was focussed on a large family and the occasional game of bridge...
But her intellect showed through when Dad said, Gene, I need help. I need someone to manage the business office of the lab.
Mom took to the business with the intensity she gave all of her life. She ruled with an iron hand and the lab techs held her in great respect.
The lab thrived.
And my Mom never aged...not in spirit certainly.
In my high school years she was setting up a color darkroom in our Hosier Drive basement.
For her 50th birthday Dad got her a minibike.
She took up computers and programming languages, spreadsheets and databases at an age when many women settle into soap operas.
She was way ahead of the curve for the internet age - getting into the web, Google and email.
My Mom had a Facebook page way before I did and has been whupping her California sons at Facebook Scrabble for years.
It is very appropriate that this woman, this powerhouse...living now at Zionsville Meadows, is looking forward to the newest technology for her Mother's Day present -
She is awaiting her first IPad.