Palm of your Hand

When my wife was born, she became the smallest surviving baby on record in California for a few years. What makes it so amazing was that she born during a time when extreme premature babies had a very low survival rate. It was 1959 and she was only 2 pounds. Her uncle said he could fit her in the palm of his hand, she was so small. Many of the people said she was a miracle baby.

Can you imagine a living, breathing, human being fitting in the palm of your hand? To me, it’s mind-blowing. I look at my wife now and even though she’s still small, she’s definitely not diminutive. For me, she’s an inspiration and a survivor. Even as a baby, she had such a strong will to live and even if it was divine intervention, she’s to be admired.

It took several months before she could be taken home. She was still tiny and could fit on a small pillow, but at the time seemed healthy enough to leave. It wasn’t until later she discovered her lungs were never fully developed and she would be susceptible to various lung issues. Since her entire family, except the other kids at the time, smoked, her lungs never had a chance.

As a child, she was small enough to curl herself up in the footwell of the car to try to avoid the ever-present smoke that would float around because the windows were shut or were opened just a little. All her siblings grew up smoking and it was like she just couldn’t avoid breathing it in. She hated it.

When she became an adult, she was diagnosed with emphysema and had to use an inhaler. The worst part for her was when she would have a new medical person and they would ask, “How long have you smoked?” I think the only thing not making it worse is that she leads a very active lifestyle and exercises often. Usually, her lungs will fail her before her muscles ever do. Still, she rests and continues on.

My wife is 60-years-old now and she still paddleboards, skates, hikes, and does some yoga. Before you think it’s all perfect, she has suffered some broken bones, a bad lower back, a sore shoulder at times, and the usual run of the mill injuries on occasion. Still, she goes on. I can barely keep up with her and just choose to watch at times. She is simply amazing to me.

Now it is often said that women can multitask better than men…I don’t know if that’s generally true, but I know it is for me and my wife. She will set out to clean the house and will do multiple rooms at the same time. She will do 10 minutes here, then 10 minutes there, and then another 10 minutes elsewhere. She can do this all day if she has to. I try to stay out of her way until called and then I just try to keep up…again. I can only do one thing at a time. Once again, she is simply amazing to me.

When it comes to kids, they automatically know she has a good heart for them. They will gather around her like kittens to a mother cat and she always keeps them amused and busy. She seems to just know what they want and what they need and they respond to her. Even stranger’s kids will look at her like they instinctively know she would love them. Amazing.

My dad was like her. He never let any perceived shortcomings get in the way of what he set out to do. Being deaf, he could’ve easily rode through life claiming his disability stopped him from doing things, but I never saw that. He did what he had to do and never, ever let his deafness be an excuse. He did everything he could to the best of his ability.

There are many examples of people just like my wife and my dad who seem to defy the odds of their perceived shortcomings. Combat veterans who had been injured in battle come to mind. Single mothers who have to be everything for their kids are another example. There may be things that just can’t be done, but everything else is done with the best they have. They are an inspiration and those of us who don’t deal with some of these things could learn from them.

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