I submitted this article to the "Blessings" column of Good Housekeeping Magazine in 2007. I wrote it after my friend, Grace, was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer to thank her for all she had done for me. She died in 2008. I realize this article is old. It didn't make into the magazine. I'm posting it now because I want all of you to know what a special person Grace was. There should be more people in the world like her.
I was born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy. In the fall of 1976 I entered community college. One of the first people I met was Grace, the campus nurse. Whether it was a medical problem, or you just needed someone to talk to, Grace was there for you. She helped disabled students in countless ways. From feeding those who needed to be fed, to making sure motorized wheelchairs were charged and ready for use. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do. She believed the disabled were just like anyone else long before the belief was politically correct. Grace looked past your disability and saw the person. She wanted disabled students to be as independent as possible on campus. The Americans with Disabilities Act was nonexistent back then. Without her daily assistance it would have been a lot more difficult for me to attend college. Many disabled would not have gone at all.
We’ve remained friends for more than thirty years. She has been a constant source of strength and support for me. When my mother fractured her hip several years ago I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. With no one to stay with me there was a strong possibility that I would have to leave my home and go to a respite care facility. I called Grace, there was no answer. When I finally reached her she was tired from doing yard work all day. I frantically explained my situation to her. In spite of how tired she was she came and stayed with me. She’s come to my rescue numerous times since then.
Grace never fails to make me laugh. She once made up a silly song, on the spot, about one of my caregivers. Grace was meeting her for the first time. When the young woman arrived Grace began singing and dancing around the room. We all got a big kick out of it. She always says, “You just like me because I’m silly.”
We love to shop. We can browse for hours especially at the jewelry counter. Grace will pick out earrings and hold them up to my ears and say, “You should get these. They’ll look good on you.”
Grace has a positive attitude and a tremendous faith in God. She makes me feel that I can do anything. I’m trying to get my children’s book published. It has been rejected by several book agents. Grace is certain that my book will be published someday and encourages me not to give up on my dream.
There have been times in my life when, had it not been for Grace’s love and support, I’m not sure I would have made it. You won’t find many people like Grace. She has taught me to believe in myself, to persevere, and that even when your life looks bleak; things will work out if you just have faith. She is the kindest most understanding person I have ever known. I’m proud to call her my friend.