Many of my heroes as a teenager were athletes; Their Sports Illustrated covers plastered the walls of my room. Heroes like Pete Rose, David Thompson, and, well, Christie Brinkley. Oh, and Ron Santo, a Chicago Cub who, like me, lived and played baseball with Type-1 diabetes. And did I mention Christie Brinkley, who, as far as I know, didn’t have Type-1 diabetes, but she always looked so happy playing whatever sport it was she played?
I took those magazine covers down from my walls a long time ago, and some of those heroes have fallen on their own. I’m not a huge fan of elevating other humans to superhero status, because not one of them (or us) is perfect (although Christie was pretty close). Every single one of them (and us) needs second chances. And, to tell the truth, not one of them truly impacted my life. But one hero has influenced my entire life.
Her name was Betty. She’s been gone for more than twelve years now, but my mom’s impact on my life, especially my life with diabetes, lives on. My mom is the person who gave me the courage to live a normal life, regardless of the highs and lows that would come along with diabetes–or any other circumstances of life. She gave me lots of grace and second chances, more than I deserved! And she taught me about God, the ultimate Giver of Second Chances.
I think my mom understood how to live with (or despite) the circumstances that life threw her way. She grew up during the Great Depression with an alcoholic and abusive father. Her own mother died when she was a young teen. My mom often went to the store and got a soup bone, took it home and boiled it with any vegetables or scraps she could find (if they were lucky), and that was dinner. Mom was a strong and yet very loving woman who loved life and never complained about her circumstances but made the best of every situation.
I wrote a tribute for my mom and read it to her at her birthday party a couple years before she died. Here’s part of it:
Mom, you were my hero when I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 11 and I spent three weeks in the hospital. You encouraged me as I made adjustments. You were my strength through it all. You gave me my shots when I couldn’t do it myself. You taught me how to care for my health. You made sure I went to a diabetes camp so I could see I wasn’t alone. Years later, when I went to a special diabetes seminar, I learned how well-adjusted I was. There was only one reason for that: my mom.
Maybe, like me, a parent was or is your hero, your support and encourager along the way. Or maybe it has been another relative, a teacher, or a friend.
Or perhaps you are that parent who is caring for a kid like me with diabetes. Thank you!
Who is your biggest hero when it comes to living with diabetes? Share your story about them in my comments section! I and others would love to hear about them. Better yet, tell them yourself in your own tribute. And then share your tribute here and tell us how it went!