TOUCHED BY LYME: Grandma’s advice on getting through tough times
The following was posted on one of the online Lyme support groups affiliated with LymeDisease.org. The author has given me permission to share, but prefers that I not give his name and location.
My grandmother’s spirit and memory continues to be an inspiration to me through life’s challenges. I know for many of you it continues to be very difficult, facing health, financial, family and other difficulties. Many of you have had it much more difficult than I. I would encourage each of you to look for opportunities to be thankful each day in the midst of difficulties and to keep pressing forward.
My grandmother lived a long and incredible life. Her words of wisdom to me over the years have been very simple: Love God, family, others and life; and to never give up and never stop fighting. Those words she shared were from the life she lived.
My grandmother was born in a German community in Russia in the early 1900s. Because of the unsettled times around the Bolshevik Revolution, her family moved to Canada when she was 7. On their voyage from Europe across the Atlantic, they boarded a cattle ship to America.
I remember my grandmother telling me how the ship became disabled, with the captain sounding the fog horn continuously for help, and the crew and passengers praying. There was fear that they would not be rescued and that the ship would be crushed in the ice that was moving in around the drifting ship.
Thankfully, a Dutch ship came to their rescue and the passengers were safely transferred onto it. My grandmother’s family homesteaded on the prairies of Saskatchewan. The 1918 flu pandemic hit her whole family, and her mother died shortly after giving birth to her youngest sister.
My grandmother, being the eldest daughter at age 12, had to assume the role of mother, forcing her to quit school. Around the time she was 16, her dad became very sick, requiring her to help take care of him for a couple of years.
In the 1930s, my grandmother became sick with tuberculosis, shortly after the birth of my father. The treatment at that time required her to go to a TB sanitarium for a couple of years, where she was isolated from the public and her family.
Once she returned home, she lived in an outbuilding from her house for many years, probably for fear my father would get sick. Over the years, she faced many more challenges, and also took care of her husband who had Parkinson’s disease for over 20 years.
My grandmother never knew a stranger, as you quickly became a friend. She loved to laugh, dance and sing, and would greet you with a warm hug. Through her adversities, her love of God, life and others became stronger along with her will.
I remember one time coming to her house when she was around 90. She had been picking apples on a tall step ladder, since she did not want to wait for family to help. When I found her, the ladder had fallen over and she was hanging from a branch with her feet five feet off the ground, and not sure what she should do.
On another occasion, she had come to meet me and some of my friends after we had been on an extended backpack outing. She decided to put on one of the 45-pound packs and walk and even do her familiar dance. This was also around the time she was 90.
In putting to practice the lessons that my grandmother taught me, I want to express my thanks. I want to thank our doctors that take the risk to treat us and buck the prevailing tide of the medical community.
I want to thank the various Lyme organizations that are fighting to help spread the word about Lyme, and to make legislative changes so doctors have the freedom to treat. I want to thank the researchers that are continually bringing to light new information.
I want to thank those of you who are caregivers. I know the job my precious wife has is much more difficult than what I face.
I do not know how those of you who are mothers and many times have Lyme yourselves are taking care of your sick children. I want to thank all of you for not giving up when doctors could not find a cause for your illness and for helping educate those around you.
I also want to thank the many in my support group who have been such a help and encouragement to me. Most of all I want to thank my wife for her love and support, and for sticking by me through these many difficult years, even when she herself is not doing well.
I also do not want to lose sight of the many little things to give thanks for each and every day and to keep on pressing forward.
I wish you all a very special Thanksgiving, and may a spirit of Thanksgiving be part of each day for in the coming year.
And, dear readers, I join with my anonymous friend above, in wishing you and your families a joyous Thanksgiving season. All the best, Dorothy
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s Director of Communications. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.