Elizabeth Beard - Why her?
Thirteen years ago on May 16th - the week after Mother’s Day - I lost the most important woman in my life, my mother.
She was from a large and loving Christian family, raised in West Texas on a farm. She never partook in any unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking or drinking. She was never overweight. She did have type 2 diabetes. She was a kind and generous person to all she knew.
My mother spent years caring for my father who had severe cardiovascular disease. She had nursed him through numerous open heart surgeries, heart attacks and countless hospital admissions for congestive heart failure and other issues. We all thought my father would be the first to go.
I remember my mother telling me that when she walked her left arm went numb, the next thing I remember was that she was undergoing a triple bypass. She never seemed the same to me after that surgery. I'm not sure if it was that my strong mother was all of the sudden weaker...needier. The one who always cared for us was not unshakeable. But - she was different.
As the years past, she began to get lost when she went shopping. She would call my father crying to come get her. She forgot how to cook her prized pecan pies and other treasured dishes. She made mistakes paying the bills. My father didn't want to admit that something was wrong with her - but there was something very wrong. She was eventually diagnosed with vascular dementia.
She endured at least four years of this hideous disease that wasted her body and mind. In the end a massive stroke took her from us at 76 years old.
My beautiful Christian mother turned into someone I didn't know. I never understood why of all people she had to endure this disease. She didn't deserve it.
Heart and vascular disease do not care who it touches or takes from us. It can come in many forms. I now carry their legacy in the form of peripheral artery disease.
My mission in life now is to help other mothers take care of themselves better, and to not put their own health matters to the side. This is my why.