There are women I know who are my real life heroes. They face those situations in life we all live in fear of with grace, courage, dignity and humor. Perhaps not all the time, but in the end with grace, courage, dignity and humor.
These are not traits you wake up one day and say, Today I shall be courageous or graceful. These are traits that are inherent to your character, often forged of pain and disappointment. Character is built over time.
I once knew a woman when I lived in North Carolina whose name was Diane. The pains and disappointments in her first 40 years had been legion, and she had developed a strength and depth of character that inspired. She was raising her two granddaughters at an age she had thought would be her time. She worked, went to church, was a wife, mother, teacher, friend, loved to play golf. Then she was diagnosed with non Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Chemotherapy. Nausea. Debilitating pain. Visit after visit to a medical clinic for treatment, followup, tests.
The facility that was the sudden center of her out of kilter universe was very close to a large shopping mall. She had realized after a few weeks of this new bizarre life that was suddenly hers that her appetite window (the time in her treatment when she was able to eat and actually wanted to eat) was very specifically the day of but prior to her chemo. She would go to a carefully selected restaurant to have the one meal she could actually enjoy prior to the next set of days of pain and agony.
On a dreary February afternoon, as she strolled through the mall, having enjoyed her lunch, she was stopped by a young woman who was taking a product survey.
"Excuse me, Ma'am, would you mind answering a few questions about your personal hair care routine and the products you use?"
"Not at all"
"I am struck by how thick and healthy your hair is. Would you care to tell me your 'secret'?"
At which point Diane adroitly removed her wig, having lost her hair weeks before. "I massage it into my scalp every night before I go to sleep."
I am not sure what triggered this memory, perhaps the many brave courageous women in my life who know the value of humor in maintaining equilibrium. How blessed I am to know each of them.