My mother, age 15, married a man, age 31, who adored her. Three years later they had a son; he lived only two days due to problems during birth. In 1936 there was little or perhaps nothing that could have been done.
Two years later, they had another son; he lived four months, due to gangrene setting in after surgery to correct a bowel obstruction. In 1938 that was what was likely to happen.
Would you expect a young couple who had buried two infants to try again? Well, they did, and in 1941 I was born—9 lbs. and healthy. Over the next months I developed eating problems, especially reactions to cow’s milk. Otherwise, I was a fairly normal healthy kid.
Why did I survive, when the others didn’t?
Over the years I survived many events that today are considered traumatic for a child: my parents’ divorce—moving from town to country to city, back to town, each move taking place every summer for several years—finally high school all in one school, in my home town, all four years, though I knew very few of the kids I’d been in school with years before.
During high school—my mother’s long illness and then death from cancer—not allowed to mourn her in accepted ways—our house destroyed by fire (no one at home, and I was living with my father in another town)--working hard to achieve perfect grades so I’d earn a scholarship to college (my father’s goal for me).
College—three years of difficult classes—getting married—moving to another state so my husband could earn his Master’s Degree—having three children in three years—then a fourth child three years after we were settled in a city. No more tuition to pay. Regular pay check. Finally finishing my college degrees.
Why did I go through all that, sometimes so exhausted I don’t know how I could read or think? Why did I survive it?
We’ll fast forward through a few decades. My marriage disintegrated. I worked at a job I loved at first, then didn’t, but stayed with it so I could “afford” to retire eventually. In 1995 I was diagnosed with cancer—same kind as my mother’s—and had surgery in a hospital nearly 200 miles from my home. A new kind of surgery, pioneered by my surgeon. No chemo, no radiation. Just surgery.
That was 27 years ago. Why did I survive, when others haven’t? Why did I escape the effects of chemo and radiation that have left many women weak and damaged?
Currently I am dealing with heart disease (family hand-me-down from both sides), vision difficulties, loss of energy, and a tendency to pulmonary problems. I have excellent doctors. My general health is good. I’m able to do everything I like to do—read, write, paint, sew, have an occasional lunch with a friend. I have a daughter living with me so I’m not alone during a time when parts of my life seem to falter.
Why, I ask—why am I here?
Why did I survive all the stuff I survived?
What is my purpose in life at this point?
This essay has no answers. I still don’t know, many years later, why I’m here. I pray about it. I read devotional materials and watch worship services online (COVID is still around) for inspiration and support. I continue to write my stories and make quilts from time to time; I paint a lot to express myself without words. Sometimes I read, but not so much now that I have eye problems. So, no, I can’t give you any answers. Can’t even dredge up any for myself.
The best I can offer is thanksgiving for blessings bestowed. We’re in a “season of thanksgiving,” when many folks write about what they’re grateful for in their lives. I’m grateful, too, but I still have that nagging question—why?
I leave the answer to “why” for others.
If we were to meet, you and I, at a local venue for coffee and music and art, maybe listening to the Three Old Guys down in Miami County . . . you would probably never guess I have the above ideas and concerns rumbling around in my life. I’m living a life I enjoy. It’s not an act. Maybe the best way I can describe it is to say I’ve gained a sort of peace with the way my life has been and how it has come out all these years later. The question of “why” will probably always be with me. Not a burden. Just a fact.
* * * * *I'm so happy to welcome Judith to the Window. We've been friends since sometime late in the last century when Jenni Licata gathered and formed a group of romantic fiction readers, writers, and thinkers. That group has scattered over the years, as have our interests, but the friendships...well, they're kind of still there. Judith has a blog called Thursday's Child that makes you think, makes you smile, and gives you a good read every Thursday. Stop by and visit! - Liz