There is a wonderful story from the local news about how some friends succeeded in fulfilling their dear friend's wish of going to the Super Bowl this year. This woman, Paula, is dying of colon cancer. You can read about the story here. She seems like a very nice person who has a fantastic group of friends who truly care for her.
But unfortunately, in my opinion, there is a bigger story here that no one would ever know. I'd like to just briefly touch on it without going into a post that would take you days to read.
The friend who put this dream of Paula's into motion is someone that I know. The news story didn't even spell her last name right.
She is the strongest, most selfless person I have ever met. When you meet her the first thing you notice is her smile. In the 12 years that I've known her I can honestly say she always makes the best of things and always with that smile on her face. You are probably asking me why that is such a big deal. She is my hero. I've always told her that. I don't think that I know a stronger person. She is a Pittsburgher through and through. She is the epitome of what our city stands for. She has had her fair share of rough times. She has struggled with alcoholism and drug use - She is in AA and NA. She has had severe back problems which had required surgery. She has a very secure core of friends to help her. She is married and has two beautiful girls. About now you are thinking that it is nice but still not that big of a deal, a lot of people are like that and though it is admirable it is not that unique.
What makes her my hero is that years back when she thought that her second daughter might be deaf she actually finds out that her daughter is not deaf but has a much bigger problem. Unfortunately for her little girl, two of her chromosomes are in a switched position. This means that she will forever be like that of a infant. Her body will grow but she will never be more responsive than that of the way an infant would be. She will always be in diapers. She cannot speak, she cannot walk or stand, she cannot hold anything in her hands, she has difficulty swallowing, she has all sorts of GI problems and dental issues. She didn't crumble. Her husband had a work-related injury that required surgery. She didn't crumble. He had another. She didn't crumble. They do what they must. She does it all with a smile and will drop everything to help someone out that needs it. Always. They live in a 2 story house that has steps just to get in the door. Her daughter is growing normally so imagine carrying an 11 year old from car to house and then once inside the house to the bathroom and bedroom which are on the second floor. Nothing in her house is equipped for handicap needs. Just bathing her daughter is difficult.
I begged her to make a video for the Extreme Makeover Home Addition show when it was new so that she could get her house upgraded to help with carrying and lifting her daughter. She looked into adding an elevator or an addition. I begged her to have a fundraiser to see if she could get enough money together to build an addition onto their house. She didn't want to make a fuss or have that attention on them. They have looked for a ranch home but do not want to leave the area they are in because they need the support of their family and friends to help them. They are middle class folks that work hard and enjoy time with friends and family. They take what life gives them and keeps it positive and thanks God for what they have. I don't know anyone else like her.
So when I saw her on the news yesterday and saw that she spearheaded the effort to help her dear friend, Paula, go to the Super Bowl and be happy during her cancer battle, I certainly wasn't shocked. Someday, somehow she will be given the help she herself and her family needs - I just know it. She gives so much of herself to so many others without hesitation.
When my own strife with my son or finances or health concerns seem to be too much for me, I think of her and I smile because I know that is what she would do.
She is a hero to me and always will be. I'm very lucky to know her.