Focus On: My Mom: Strength of Spirit Wrapped in a Smile

I apologize for the technical difficulties yesterday.  Here is the complete post:

Photo 01

Ann Wetzel at 18 years old









Ann Wetzel, this Christmas, with two
of her great-grandchildren, Gavin and Evelyn


In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

— Albert Camus

I have always loved this quote, and as I pack my suitcase to travel to Sanford this evening, to join my family in supporting my mother through her third battle with breast cancer, I realize how this quote applies to her and her strength when the going gets rough..

The battle with this disease began for my mother twenty-two years ago, when she underwent a mastectomy to remove one of her breasts. Seventeen years later, it returned and she endured another surgery and a course of radiation. And now, five years later, her remaining breast is threatened by the cancer’s return.

My  mother will be 90 years old in May, the winter of her life, but inside she, like Camus, carries an invincible summer.  I am inspired by her strength, her acceptance to do what she must do.  I’m not saying she doesn;t have her moments of fear and uncertainty, but from her base of faith and strength of spirit, she soldiers on despite the challenges life can bring.

She has outlived her entire childhood family – parents, seven  brothers and one sister, and their spouses as well. She has mourned the deaths of her husband and oldest son, John. She has seen me through two miscarriages and surgery for colon cancer. She came to help me when I had my first child, arrived to help with the second, despite having a concussion, which she thought was just a bad headache. (We later found out she was playing with my brother’s son and hit her head,causing the concussion). She moved to North Carolina to take care of her new granddaughter until my sister was able to quit work.

Everyone who meets her, loves her.  She has grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, not to mention the many others who also call her Nana – the children of friends, the many children whose lives she touched by volunteering at her grandchildren’s elementary school,. My best friend, Kathi, from high school called her Mama Wetzel.  She still does.

How does she carry this invincible summer within her? Her secret isn’t very complicated. She genuinely likes people.  She greets them with her sunny smile, a  kind word, a warm hug. The ladies at her hairdresser’s shop all love her.  When she needs to go somewhere, her friend, Betty, is there to drive her, take her to lunch or church. If Betty is away visiting her family, her next door neighbor, Jerry, or  Denny, the husband of a friend, are there to fill in anytime she needs a lift. I often drove her to visit an ailing friend in a nursing home, and we always had to stop in to see another lady whom mom made friends with while visiting her friend.  I know how much my mother’s visits meant to those ladies . I could see it in their faces and their smiles when mom appeared at their door. I know my mom will be surrounded by the love and support of all these people whose lives she has touched as she undergoes this latest surgery.  What more can I say?.If you send  a ripple of love out into the universe, guess what, it ripples right back.

I will be off-line for a few days while I’m away, but I’ll be back!


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