From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011
Entrant: Meghan Ward
Nominee: Kathleen Ward, Nurse, Mother, Friend
“God couldn’t be everywhere, therefore He created mothers.” – Yiddish Proverb
Recently, I lost my grandmother after a period of failing health. She passed away in hospice care, in the hospital surrounded by family and friends. I have always believed that it is in times such as those that people’s true character is seen, and it was during this time that I came to know my own mother as a health hero in every sense of the word.
As my grandmother lay in her bed — sick, confused, and not knowing who was with her or what was going on — the one thing that remained constant was my mother’s presence. My mother was the one who sat with my grandmother in the middle of the night, just to hold her hand, making sure that she was comfortable and calm. It was my mother who sacrificed night after night of sleep to be with her in the hospital. It was my mother who recognized if she was in any pain, advocating for her and ensuring her that she was not alone. It was my mother who was with her when she took her last breath.
As my grandmother became sicker, the responsibilities of caring for an elderly relative weighed heavily on my family. However, it was my mother who was there, constantly. It was my mother who visited her in the middle of the night, during snowstorms and times of health crises. It was my mother who brought her dinner and made sure she ate, and it was my mother who was there during times of great sadness and loneliness. It was my mother who took her to the hospital time after time, before her final days. It was my mother who bathed and cleaned her when she could no longer do it herself, and it was my mother who held her when she died.
My grandmother who passed away was my mom’s mother-in-law; however, I believe my mother was more like a daughter than a daughter-in-law to her. Being married to her son, my mother was welcomed into the family by my grandmother, who herself was widowed with five children to raise on her own during the 1960s. Both women — strong, resilient and kind — exemplify the kind of woman I strive to be every day. I am incredibly proud of both my grandmother and my mother, and I feel this nomination as a women’s health hero does not begin to adequately thank my mother for all she done, for me and for my family. I am truly honored to be her daughter.
My mother is many things. She is a nurse, she is a daughter, she is a sister, she is a grandmother, she is a friend, she is a caretaker, and most importantly, she is my hero. She is someone who cares for others whenever they are alone and in need. She is the kind of woman who will simply sit with someone as they die, so they are not alone. She is kind, comforting, caring, selfless, and incredibly strong. She is the kind of woman deserving of the title of health hero, for herself and on behalf of mothers everywhere.