My Grandma Faye was one strong lady. She raised her family in a tiny Kansas farmhouse, no bigger than my own living and dining rooms combined. She gave birth seven times, then endured the loss of three precious children, the first, at birth, then little Wilma, only a toddler when she passed, and finally her only son, Doran, at age seven. The heartbreak she endured must have been staggering, yet she mustered the strength to go on for her husband and four daughters, the youngest of which would one day be my mother.
Grandma and Grandpa struggled through the Great Depression, though their children never once felt deprived. Grandma raised chickens, grew and canned vegetables, and made darling little dresses from printed cotton feed sacks. There was always food on the table, clean clothing to wear, cheery perennials blooming by the front step, despite the dry Kansas soil. Through all of life’s challenges, Grandma’s faith remained strong.
Grandpa adored her, in sickness and in health. I’m certain he admired her strength as he saw her through the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and finally breast cancer – the one thing Grandma couldn’t beat.
I know these things about my grandma because my mother has shared them with me. I’ve seen the family pictures, even visited the farmhouse where my mother was raised. But breast cancer took Grandma from us before I was even born. I do wish I could have known her.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- so please, be aware. Do what you can to be there for your children and grandchildren. Breast cancer took my grandma, and in 1995, tried to take my mother as well. Thankfully, breast cancer is no longer a certain death sentence. Early detection and treatment saved my mom. Twelve years later, she’s still here for her 17 grandchildren, plus three (and counting) great-grandchildren. How blessed they are to have their grandmother in their lives.