I read a poem several months ago that stayed with me, haunted me actually. I found it when someone I loved passed and I wanted to find a way to immortalize her life with one single social media image. This is not an easy thing to do, at least not for me. I hesitated to post it but I knew she was here somewhere, watching over us and most likely smiling at all the fuss we made. She didn’t like fuss, but I could feel her warmth and hear echos of her sweet southern voice carried on the breeze around me and I knew, this was it.
She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the Universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings. ~Ariana Dancu
After pausing a moment from the daily chaos and noise, I had an opportunity to consider how blessed I am to have so many amazing women in my life. And she was certainly one of them.
I’ve felt compelled to tell a bit of her story ever since I read this quote because I admired her so much for the life she led. She was an angel with a broken wing but defied her life circumstances every step of the way. She had such tenacity and she never really knew it. And something else, something we could all learn from her. She was always grateful. She would point out the bright side of life even when darkness was staring her directly in the eyes and challenging her spirit. I’m convinced her continual sense of gratitude was the key to her happiness.
She was born into a coal mining family in the Appalachians. Married at 15 and a single mother by her early 20’s. She kept herself and her family moving forward despite her circumstances. She went back to school, raised two sons and completed a nursing degree.
She was 78 when she passed and I bet she’s just as feisty, strong-willed and lovely on the other side as she was here on earth. I smile when I think about some of the things she would say in her charming, sweet southern accent, “life is what you make it baby girl, you just have to believe it’ll all work out as it should”. There was an innocence about her even at the end. Although, I’m not sure if it was an innocence or simply the way she chose to see humanity and the world around her. She was accepting of the parts of humanity she didn’t understand and proud of the things she had learned to understand. This was true throughout every step of her life.
She wasn’t famous or wealthy but she was a superstar in my book. Even when she was broken she pressed on; no complaints, simply gratitude for the opportunity to be more than what was expected or what life gave her. She divorced twice and married the love of her life at 75. She never lost hope or let age get in her way of living life to its fullest. Even when the Universe was heavy on her shoulders, she flew as gracefully as anyone I’ve ever known.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day and we celebrated women all over the globe. It was heart-warming to see social media light up with tributes to my gender. Had she still been with us, she would’ve been right in the middle of it all, even if she didn’t know how to post on Facebook. So, here’s to you my dearest Mimi, may your example of gratitude, acceptance, kindness and tenacity be evident in all of us who knew you and loved you.