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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Ordinary Heroes: Finish Strong

by Marilynn Chadwick When people meet my 95-year-old father, they often ask, “What’s his secret? How does your dad look so young and stay so sharp?” Daddy would be the first to tell you that part of his secret was caring for his beloved wife. He and my mom had been married just shy of 70 years when she died this past January. My mother had been bedridden the last fifteen years of her life. A ruptured appendix and complications from the surgery robbed this once-robust grandmother of her ability to walk. But enough of her razor-sharp mind was still there that conversation was still possible. Daddy insisted upon caring for her at home with nurses’ aides to help him with wheelchair transfers and daily care. When I was growing up, Mom and Dad would each say they “married up.” Mom would tell us three girls how lucky she was to find Daddy. And Daddy said he was just glad his “turn in line” finally came. To which Mom would answer back, “Well, I was hoping you would ask me out!” One day toward the end when Mom was barely hanging on to life, Daddy looked at her lying in bed after he had brushed her hair and said quietly, “Doesn’t she look pretty?” Few can imagine the challenges Mom and Dad faced on a daily basis. Daddy did the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Also catheters, baths, and diapers. There were occasional trips to the emergency room because of infections. It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. Sometimes we overlook the heroic nature of the people right in front of us. They seem so, well, normal. Ordinary. But looking back, I can see how Mom and Dad’s values quietly shaped my own. “Live a life of sacrifice and honor. Give yourself for the greater good. Put others first. Don’t give up. Family is worth it. No matter what comes your way, persevere. Trust God. And always do the right thing.” These were some of the lessons my parents taught me by example. Now Daddy is creating a new life for himself without my mom. It’s been comforting for our family to reflect on the legacy that she left. I feel enormous gratitude for their sacrifices. Quite often, the most noble and enduring way to live is with a love that never dies. God has given us ordinary heroes, often within our own families. To inspire us. To strengthen us. So that we, too, can finish strong.

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