My life changed forever on this day 25 years ago. My 37-year-old mother lost her battle against diabetes and kidney failure that day. I’ve mentioned her death before, and I’ve told you about how my dad met my stepmom and they got married, but today I wanted to tell you a little about my mother and the life that she lived. Since this is the 25th anniversary of her death, I will tell you 25 things about her.
1. She was born in 1944, the third child and only girl in her family. Her name was Jane.
2. When she was 8 years old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, known at that time as juvenile diabetes.
3. She married at age 19, in 1963. She never went to college. The picture to the left was taken when she was about 18. She's holding the box that her class ring came in. This would have been spring of 1962.
4. Two years after she married, she had her first child - ME!
5. She was expecting another baby early in 1969, but that baby was stillborn, another girl. That was her last child; it was too risky for her to carry another baby.
6. She could ride a bike and skate, which I thought was pretty cool when I was a kid.
7. She was saved as a child, then rededicated her life to the Lord when my dad got saved in 1972.
8. She burned her foot badly when she was a teenager, and had to have skin grafts from the shin on the opposite leg when it didn't heal well. Burns and diabetes don't mix too well.
9. She took insulin injections every day of her life after her diagnosis, and to me that was as normal as taking vitamins every day.
10. She loved to talk and reminisce with family and get in touch with old friends.
11. She had red hair, fair skin, brown eyes, and lots of freckles.
12. She was short - only 5'1" tall.
13. What you saw of Mama was what you got - she was not one to put on airs.
14. She was pretty feisty, but I don't remember her ever going against my dad.
15. She was full of little sayings such as "Pretty is as pretty does." I'm sure she learned these from her mother, because I kept hearing them even after Mama died! LOL
16. In late 1975, around Thanksgiving, if I remember correctly, Mama got sick with what seemed like a stomach virus. Turned out to be kidney failure, a complication of diabetes.
17. She had her first kidney transplant in July, 1976. The donor was her brother, but her body rejected the kidney. I'm proud to say that my Uncle Bud is still alive and healthy! :)
18. She began what would become 5 years of dialysis treatments. Three days a week, 6 hours a day. This picture was taken sometime after the transplant, during the time of her dialysis treatments. You can see the bandage covering the place on her upper left arm where the vein was accessed for treatments. This vein was called a bovine, because it was taken from a cow's neck and grafted into my mother's veins in her arm. The bovine was stronger than human veins, and could stand up to the stress of the large needles used in dialysis.
19. In 1978, when my dad took the pastorate of a church in a rural area of Tennessee, he learned to do her treatments at home.The picture to the left is the setup in our home. We had an extra bedroom that was Daddy's study/Mama's treatment room. Daddy did this for almost 3 years. I learned to do quite a few things related to dialysis, including checking blood pressure, giving medications, and setting up and cleaning the machine.
20. We moved back to SC in early 1981. Mama was becoming weaker, and Daddy wanted her to be near her mother. The move would also put her back under the care of a dialysis clinic.
21. Mama was not a complainer. She was often in pain or deeply discouraged, but the only people who knew that were Daddy and me. I would imagine that many times only Daddy knew.
22. On July 12, 1981, we received word that a cadaver kidney was available (a person was not going to live and his family had donated his organs). Daddy and Mama flew to Nashville, TN, where the surgery was performed by the transplant team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The picture below was taken just a couple of weeks before the transplant. She is sitting with her mother, my Granny, at a church dinner.
23. The kidney worked! Her body was showing no signs of rejection this time.
24. Shortly after midnight on July 20th, Mama went into cardiac and respiratory arrest. She never woke up again, although she was resuscitated and kept on life support until Granny and I could get there. That little kidney was the last organ to stop working!
25. She was a good example to me of patience in suffering. I feel that I can say I have a goodly heritage!
Of course, I have missed my Mama terrbly at times over the years, but I can say that God does give grace when and where it's needed for the hard times we face in life.