Happy birthday today to my grandmother, Charlene Peace McCurdy Gaut.

I miss her terribly every day. She was born on the original Armistice Day- hence the name Peace. She was a strong woman that never gave up. Polio and spondylosis wouldn’t keep her down. She defied odds and walked until the day she died. She is my hero for dealing with her chronic pain the way she did. I remember her telling me about when she had polio and went to the beach and taught herself to walk again. As much as I love my mountains, the beach is healing and she taught me this. Also, she was diagnosed with Ankalosing Spondylitis when young. For those of you that do not know, this is a painful fusing of the spine. By the time she died, she couldn’t bend her back at all. she would moan and groan in her sleep all night but you hardly ever heard her complain when she was awake. Now that I have my own chronic pain, I remember her and am determined to not let it stop me from doing the things I want to do until I truly can’t anymore.

She was a loving woman. She always did the best she could for others. She would cook elaborate meals and the table was always perfect. Her gifts were always so thoughtful and decorated so beautifully. She would do whatever she could to help someone truly in need and had no problem showing her love, though not in the physical ways. When we would go to visit, she always had things for us to do- paper dolls, paper and crayons. She would make us special sundaes and desserts and almost always had my favorite butterscotch cookies waiting for me when I came in the door. Some of my favorite memories wer of her with my eldest daughter. They had such a special bond and I will always treasure the photos of them sleeping together holding hands.

She was a tough woman, she always let you know when you screwed up. (I was scared of her for years). She was quick with her temper but also to forgive. As a quiet child, she intimidated me and I didn’t learn to truly appreciate her until I was much older.

She was a creative woman. Her art and poetry blow me away to this day. I have been spending a lot of time recently reading her poetry. she was such a softy at heart and, oh so wise.

I love you, “Mom” and miss you so very much. Thanks for being who you were, you helped make me who I am.