When I think of courage, I often think of my mother as she sat patiently attempting to thread her sewing needle in a dimly lit room, ceiling light beckoning for a new and brighter bulb. My sister or I would take over the task after so many utterances of; “oh dear, what is happening to my eyesight?” This woman, as a teenager, raised four siblings in the late 1920’s after her father died and faced endless days of caring for others. Her mother worked as a nanny. My mother finished high school, had a brief stint as a newspaper reporter in a small lakeside Michigan town and then, after marrying my father, began her own family of four children.
She got by, through the years of economic challenge, making sure that all of her children ate well and wore clean and pressed clothing. Socks were darned and torn shirts mended. There were other challenges, of course, but the central one was that she lived a life for others while she grieved a life she imagined was not hers to have. You know, the luxury to be able to wake up in the morning and ask; “what do I want to do today.” I know she is not unlike many men and women who face a life that demands more than they have to give, who somehow persevere.
I don’t know how any of us do it, sometimes, waking up and facing a life that is filled with so much demand surrounded by so much uncertainty. Do we really know if we will live through this day? Whatever we focus on – our jobs, family, health, all of life will change and we will have to find a way to deal with it.
I often wonder; "How do we do it?" How do we live a life of joy and happiness when the inevitable is so close at hand? I think it takes courage. A soft and quiet courage to find a way to release our fears and to embrace the life that we do have as it unfolds right in front of us.