I recently had the chance to see the movie - “The Theory of Everything”. It is a movie about the life of Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author of “A Brief History of Time”. I enjoyed the movie, but I was profoundly struck by the fact that, without Jane Wilde by his side, Hawking’s life story would have played out quite differently. It got me thinking about the women I know and have known throughout my lifetime. So many have touched my life in so many ways.
Sometimes they have reflected the values of the world in ways that have made my heart sad. Once, I was talking with a friend after a holiday break. She was telling me about the conversation she and her siblings had had with her parents. She said that her mom was so cool because she had told them if she ever needed to be cared for in her old age, she did not want them to inconvenience their lives by taking her in - they could just put her in a home somewhere and she would not complain. Her dad, on the other hand, was the difficult one. He told them he would expect them to take care of him. The contrast in my friend’s attitude about her parents depressed me. She saw nothing wrong with expressing the fact that she did not think she or her siblings should be expected to inconvenience or change their lives if and when their parents needed caring for in their old age. She felt like her dad was unreasonable, selfish, and demanding. Her parents were not any where near old enough for the family to be facing those decisions yet, but what a commentary on our society. That conversation comes to mind repeatedly when I think about one of my heroes, and, actually a Torch board member, Linda B..
In 1993, Linda’s mother, Inez Rothert, began having health issues with her stomach. She was 78 years old, and Linda and her family convinced her it was time she stopped living on her own. Inez was actually born and grew up in Arkansas, but met a “Northerner” and fell in love. When she was 78 she was living in Iowa, and it was there she made the decision to move to Michigan. Linda and her husband, Steve, added a mother-in-law suite to their home for Inez. Upon arriving in Michigan, she went to the doctor who prescribed her an antibiotic and Pepto Bismol - and she recovered from her stomach troubles shortly thereafter.
For the past 22 years, Inez has been a Howell resident and has been well taken care of by her daughter Linda. Don’t get me wrong - Steve has been a great help, as well, but Linda’s dedication to being there for her mom stands out in such stark contrast to my other friend’s attitude which tends to reflect our society’s standards. Linda is an amazing lady. She made a selfless decision that most definitely inconvenienced her life. When she decided Inez should move in, she had no idea what the future might hold, yet she did not let worries or fears of the unknown stop her from doing what she knew was the right thing to do.
Last July, Inez turned 100 years old, which means she is now 100.5 years old!
I can’t help but think about how different her life could have been, if Linda had not been willing to “inconvenience her life”, and give her mother a place to live for these many years. I feel blessed to know Linda, and to have her in my life showing me what it looks like to be a hero. Whenever I tell her that she is my hero, she replies, “I’m no hero.”
It seems like the true heroes often don’t see it in themselves - but the rest of us do.
100.5 years on this earth. Amazing.