Those of you that have been reading my blog for awhile may be aware that one of my "jobs" was being a caregiver for my aunt who had MS. I have recently lost that job because my aunt lost her battle with the disease after 18 years.
My aunt was an amazing person who had the odds stacked against her from the day she was born. Tracy was born in a mental hospital to a mother who was having a nervous breakdown due to the fact that her husband and father to her 5 children was leaving her. Tracy's mom was my grandmother's sister and Tracy was placed in my grandparents' care for about 4 years until her birth mother was released from the hospital. At that time, her real mother decided not to take Tracy from the only family she's ever known and allowed my grandparents to adopt her. She was two years younger than me and we grew up together. We had our moments where we couldn't stand each other but underneath it all we loved each other like sisters.
At the age of 8, Tracy lost her adoptive mother to cancer and her adoptive father by the time Tracy was 15. She came to live with my family until she finished high school.
She was diagnosed with MS at the age of 28 and has been courageously fighting the disease for all this time. She underwent a lot of different treatments, one of which caused her heart to fail 8 years ago. They were able to revive her and after a month in a coma and 2 months in rehab, she proved the doctor wrong who told her she would never walk again. She walked for 4 years after that before needing to use a walker or wheelchair again.
She and her husband loved to travel and took at least one trip per year. Sam was Godsent and knew when he proposed to her where this disease would lead. He was always there for her and did whatever she needed done that she couldn't do for herself. One of their trips was to Mexico during hurricane season. Hurricane Wilma hit while they were there and they spent at least a week in a shelter. There were many other people in the shelter with them and at least one of them told her he wanted to complain about the conditions but when he saw her NOT complaining about anything he knew he couldn't either. She inspired many people with her courage and her fire (Sam's word for her spirit).
One of the last things I did with her was this past Friday afternoon when she asked me to help her hide from Sam when he came home from work. We heard the garage door open and I helped her manuever her wheelchair quickly out the back door. We made it just around the corner when we heard him open the back door to look for us. Laughing the whole way, we made it around the side of the house to the front and waited for him to discover us. We waited for at least 5 minutes wondering the whole time what was taking him so long when we decided to give ourselves up. We went to the front door and rang the bell over and over. He was on the phone talking to Tracy's nurse telling her he couldn't figure out where we were. Sam had built a handicapped accessible house for Tracy with an elevator. The elevator happened to be on the 3rd floor so he thought that's where we would be. He searched all of the rooms and the closets and was confused we weren't there and then searched the basement as well. When I told this story to a friend of mine he told me it was mean but he didn't understand that Sam expected things like this from her and from me as well when I was with her. We were quite a team and I am a better person for having known her.
I feel sorry for those in her natural family who chose not to get to know her when given the opportunity because they missed out on something wonderful.
I was fortunate to be able to spend so much time with her these last few years and also to be with her when she took her last breath. She will be missed by many but I am comforted knowing she is at peace and able to all the things in heaven her body here on earth wouldn't allow her to do.
I am looking forward to seeing her again someday and causing a little mischief in heaven.