Tuesday, February 5, 2013

One Girl and One Boy...

I learned a lot this evening, mostly about acceptance with who I am. We all want to do it better. We all want to change the past. We all want to right a wrong and take back something we wished we hadn't done. Yet the underlying truth we must face is, we can't.  However, if love and truth lead the way we will forever be on the right path.

My lessons tonight come from my boyfriend's parents, Norma and Steve. They have been married 46 years, hoping to get to 50, despite Norma's debilitating multiple sclerosis that has been looming over her head since she was diagnosed over 30 years ago. Here they sit on their couch in Indiana, holding hands in front of me, and smiling at each other as if they had just met yesterday. You bet I had something to learn, not only learn but experience firsthand the kind of love that, according to Steve, allowed Norma to be who she is. Her childhood is one that should never be experienced by anyone, yet in finding her way out she found her power by correcting injustices in the world around her .  In Steve's eyes, the man who has loved her dearly throughout their lives together sees “only her heart."  "Even when she's critical or hard on herself, I just love her so.” 

I thought about the women who I respect, the women I admire above all others, and I realized they were women who stood up for what was just.  These were women who acted with honesty and integrity and asked for forgiveness later.  One of my favorite quotes from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich reads, "Well-behaved women seldom make history."  Although Norma may not make the history books, her presence in my memory is one that will forever bring admiration.

One awesome Norma story takes place in 2004 at a KKK rally outside the courthouse in downtown Elkhart, Indiana.  She forced Steve to take her and her homemade sign which read, "KKK- Straight From The Bowels Of Hell", to the event in order to protest.  Keep in mind the MS had left her unable to walk without using a walker, yet the police thinking the walker could be used as a weapon, made Norma leave it behind.  With her sign in hand, holding onto fencing to pull her way to the heart of the crowd, she found her place to stand up and allow her voice to be heard.

Sometimes I get mouthy. Other times I get opinionated, stubbornly so. And yet even other times I overstep my boundaries, tell someone off and question whether I should just sit down, shut up, and "act like a lady". But, just as Steve learned about Norma, I so pass on to you...don't worry about how you say it, or even about overreacting in the moment.  Be strong, hold to your virtues, and if your heart is in the right place, if you lead with love and honesty, you will shine through.