What is Strength?

Reads: 88  | Likes: 2  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 1

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

What, in my opinion, is strength? My family experiences and environment shape my thoughts on what strength really means to me personally. The strength of my mother has influenced me in ways that I am starting to understand more as time goes on.

What is Strength?

Background

For me, when I think of the word strength, I immediately think of my mother. She was the strongest person I know. She may not have been physically strong and eventually spent most of her days in a wheelchair, but she exuded mental strength!

My mother, Barbara Helen Pearson, and my father, Hans Peter Pearson, couldn't have children of their own and so they chose to adopt. They went through adoption classes and met with my birth mother, Patricia Kostichka, before making the decision to adopt me. My parents were both teachers, my mom taught at a private Catholic elementary school in Reedsville and Brillion and my father taught as a biology professor at the college I would eventually attend, Silver Lake College, in Manitowoc. Education was very important in our household. My brother Michael and I, adopted from different mothers, were sent to private Catholic schools and attended mass every Sunday.

Barb on the left, me in the middle, and Patricia on the right.

Barb on the left, me in the middle, and Patricia on the right.

My mom, my dad, and my brother.

My mom, my dad, and my brother.

Chronic Illness

My mom started to get ill. She was eventually diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease, that she unfortunately inherited from her mother. Autoimmune diseases attack the immune system and leave the body susceptible to other illness. She also struggled with anemia and had to get blood transfusions on a regular basis. And her diabetes eventually led to her losing part of her leg, the same thing that happened to her mother. However, my mother fought long and hard. She even beat breast cancer! I'm very fortunate that she was able to be there when my first daughter, Skyyler, was born but regret that she couldn't be there for my wedding or the birth of my second daughter, Kira. My mom would use the wheelchair and a cane on the days when movement or standing up became difficult.

My father never left her side through it all. He eventually had to care for my mother full time with my assistance, which was difficult due to my father's mental health issues. He struggles with severe depression and anxiety. I lived with them while attending college so that I would be there on a daily basis to help. My mom, being diabetic, had to administer insulin to herself and watch her diet, but due to her physical exhaustion and my dad's mental illness, sometimes she would miss meals. There were times she spent long stretches of time in the hospital or rehab. Inner strength is the only way my mother made it through all of her hardships.

My mother holding her first grandchild, my daughter Skyyler.

My mother holding her first grandchild, my daughter Skyyler.

Another picture of my two moms, Patricia on the left and Barb on the right in her wheelchair, you can also see her prosthetic leg.

Another picture of my two moms, Patricia on the left and Barb on the right in her wheelchair, you can also see her prosthetic leg.

Strength, a Habit, an Asset

At the end, my parents losing their house to foreclosure and my mom having just spent another extended stay at rehab, going home to a new apartment proved to be far too much for her to handle. There were times that my mother and I had conversations about religion and spirituality. I know that despite being raised Catholic, she believed that a loving God didn't send people to hell and that what we were raised to believe as far as heaven and hell was different than reality. She very much believed, as do I, in life after death but she also read Sylvia Brown and agreed with alot that she wrote.

My mom didn't discuss much of her childhood with me because she was negatively affected by her father's alcoholism. She would only tell me that he was a difficult man. As my father progressed into a deep state of depression, social anxiety, and occasional night terrors I wonder if it reminded her of her childhood in some ways when her parents would fight. She and my father rarely fought but only about money as did her parents. I wonder, if this is where my mother drew her strength, shaped it as protection against the things she was powerless to change as a child and into adulthood.

I will never forget her words to me, that she had kept notebooks and if I ever found these notebooks to destroy them without reading. She also told me that she wrote each of us a letter, my dad, my brother, and me, and to read it after she passed away. I treasure her letter as her final words to me before she passed away from a life where she had to build her own strength to survive the world.

With frequent trips to Aurora Clinic, it was nice to take a break to eat lunch by Lake Michigan with my mom and brother.

With frequent trips to Aurora Clinic, it was nice to take a break to eat lunch by Lake Michigan with my mom and brother.

Our family at Easter in our dining room.

Our family at Easter in our dining room.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Katrina Skyyler Rose


Submitted: January 13, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Katrina Skyyler Rose. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

citizensamurai

Everyone has a story to tell - this essay spanned so many families, so many generations and years of experience - and it's a story that continues with you children. This was a fascinating read - parts of it reminded me (for their depth & richness of description) of Wally Lamb's "She's Come Undone". I don't know if you plan to turn out more work but - I have connected more with "personal" stories like this on Booksie than I have with pure fiction. I love fiction but the difference I'm seeing here is the real "voice" that comes through. Well done.

Wed, January 13th, 2021 11:56pm

Author
Reply

Now reading your comment makes me want to check out that book as well.

Thu, January 14th, 2021 7:00am