ONLY THE STRONG WOULD SURVIVEI have no portrait to post with this. There are no newspaper cuttings, no articles in magazines or books. Few even know this lady’s story.
Born in a family ravaged by the Great War (1914 -1918), her father had his lungs poisoned by mustard gas in
in 1917. He returned to his
farm, but never recovered, thus dying young and leaving a widow with 8 children
to struggle on alone. Where were the male relatives, the uncles and brothers
who might have helped out? Sadly, the battlefields of France France and had taken their lives or
their health. Belgium
For years this lady and her older sister milked 40 cows in the morning before riding their bicycles 8 miles into the nearest town to work, and after they returned home in the evening, they milked 40 cows again and did other farm chores. Needless to say, they handed their weekly pay packets, unopened, to their mother.
Years passed, and when the younger siblings were old enough to help things became easier. The lady was able to enjoy a social life.
As the black clouds of World War II hovered overheard, she became engaged to a young man before he marched off to war. And she waited, like thousands of other women, for her man to return, stoically working in the munitions factory and helping with the war effort. Soon the love letters stopped, her soldier was listed as Missing In Action, believed Prisoner Of War. For two years she didn’t know whether he was alive or dead, but finally the news came. He had escaped his captors.
On his return home they married, had three children and settled into suburbia. Money was tight, but having been trained at a young age to be frugal, she managed to keep things going, and all was well.
But fate had another cruel card to play. A slow moving muscle wasting disease. But did she give up? No. She enjoyed her children and grandchildren, took holidays with her husband and did charity work. All the while this hideous disease spread it’s ugly tentacles throughout her body, sapping her strength, but never breaking her spirit.
After her husband died, she stayed in her own home for a few more years. The disease spread, hungry and evil, it could not be stopped. Finally, when she could no longer walk, she bravely set about finding a suitable nursing home.
Thankfully, she died before she had to leave her beloved home and cherished memories.
How do I know all of this? The lady was my mother.
My message to everyone is – cherish your mother, because the world is a sad and lonely place without her.
Please raise your cyber glasses of champagne, and drink a toast to yet another unsung heroine.