I was having one such day last week when the phone rang. It was my daughter's friend from high school. I recognized her sweet upbeat voice immediately. She had been reading my blog and had something she wanted to say. She read aloud what she was about to send me and as she did - tears streamed down my face. In fact she asked me to put it right here for you all to read. Here it is and I will give an explanation later in the post.
"One of the people I am most grateful for is Maureen Clout. Growing up, I survived an abusive home environment. In short, my father suffered from alcoholism, my mother struggled with mental illness, as well as, the emotional abuse my father inflicted on the both of us. At 16 I conferred with my friends and boyfriend; and my friend Jerri took my concerns seriously. She labeled my situation as abuse (which I had never admitted) and suggested I visit a women's shelter-which her mom had experience working at. I will never forget speaking with her mom on the phone, and the difference of a teenage girl venting to her friends’ vs a woman telling a fellow woman about her hardships. She treated me like an adult, inspired me, assured me, and validated my concerns. I left home that day. This was just the beginning of Maureen's (or Momma Clout's) kindness and care for me. In addition to being the kind of mom figurehead that a teenager's best friend's mom is, she went above and beyond for me, and one of my biggest fears in life is that I didn't; or will never be able to express the gratitude I feel towards her during this completely messed up time of my life. I wanted a mom to go prom dress shopping with me. Maureen was there, critiqued (in a sensible mom way), complimented, and even paid for my prom dress. She took as many (and as a mom excited) prom pictures as she did of her daughter, and my honorary sister, Jerri.
Before I went away for university, she took me out shopping and bought personal essentials to look out for me. Looking back now, it doesn't seem like much, but at the time, bulk shower gel and body lotion were things I never would've thought of, but Momma Clout knew I needed so desperately. These are just some of the things she did. She also cooked oh so many dinners, gave so many bear hugs, pretended to be my mom to authorize the piercing of my ears, and encouraged me to make good choices in school. And for that, and so much more that can't be put into words, she is someone I am so very grateful of."
That is the precious words of gratitude from someone I will always consider family. Her bright smile and clear eager eyes were one of the first things we saw each and every morning of Jerri’s high school years. She spent many hours with us, all of them were pleasant. She treated Meghan like a sister and Barry and I with respect always.
What she didn't say in that gratitude note was she was in a lot of pain. Not only the emotional pain of what she has told you, which is more than many will experience in a lifetime; she has serious physical pain.
I had always known that she had scoliosis -- it was visibly obvious. One day she talked to me about it and took off her shirt to show me. I had to hold back tears. I couldn't believe this beautiful girl had to deal with this incredible situation.... and alone. We talked for sometime that day, and with her university career about to start the following year I was nervous for her. A specialist had told her years previous, that she required surgery for her very large curvature of her spine. She said, just wasn't a priority in their household. She was a child, she had wanted it fixed, but didn't know what she could do for herself. That day we made a plan. She asked me to help her and I wasn't sure how, but I sure was going to. I felt she had enough pain in her life, some that couldn't be fixed, and some that could. I felt a surge of love and admiration for this young girl with all she had endured.
I had to find a way to help her without intruding on her broken family. Although at that time she wasn't speaking to them, I did not want to be a part of severing any ties she had left.
The perfect solution came to me, The Shriners Hospital in Montreal. Our local Shriners met and approved her for special care through their club. They brought her to Montreal assessed and cared for her and paid for everything. Right up until it was time for her to go for surgery, I had hoped one of her parents would accompany her. Sadly they did not. I couldn't physically make the trip because of my own health at the time. Her boyfriend's father stepped up and was there for her all the way.
She had a massive surgery. She recovered well, and also recovered her school year. She was accepted into university that fall and she hadn't missed a beat. That was five years ago and I am so happy to report she has graduated university with a degree in psychology. She has a full time job, but what is even more remarkable is she is very healthy, pain free and she has even started running.
In yesterday's post we talked about whom we looked up to because of their resiliency- there is no better choice for me. I love this girl and couldn't be more proud for all she has accomplished under such adverse conditions. She's small, but mighty and one of my personal heroes.
Disclaimer: I felt a little uncomfortable posting this, and gave it great thought. I did what I did for her as a service. It was a private and precious relationship. She however, took it to the next level with her courage and strength. To show that it was necessary to tell what others had done for her. It is she not I, that deserves credit. Many are helped but few soar to new heights as she did.