As she has for more than ten years, my sister joined me and my girlfriends at the beach this past weekend.
From my earliest memory, Brenda has been my closest friend, and, along with my mother, my role model and inspiration. Despite the eight years between us and my bratty personality, when I was little she often let me tag along with her. She drove me and my friends places, and as I got older, was there whenever I needed support or just someone to laugh or cry with.
When we were younger, we spent lots of time together (she was the best big sister ever!) but eventually husbands, kids, and my move to another town made it difficult to have more than brief visits. So I really looked forward to these annual trips to the coast and long hours to relax together.
However, this year I was torn. Brenda's Parkinson's disease hasn't been an issue, but a hip injury isn't healing as well as we hoped and, as much as I wanted to see her, I worried the trip would aggravate the injury, that she would overdo it between sitting in a vehicle for hours and walking too much, even with her cane or walker. She had taken several trips the past year and always seemed to have a setback and be in pain afterwards.
On her part, she worried she would be a burden on everyone, that her mobility issues would prevent her from doing any cooking or cleaning.
That's when my friends proved they've embraced her as their sister, too...
"Does anyone think this woman would be a burden? Should I just go get her & force her into my vehicle? Is there a rule that she HAS to shop or cook? Wouldn't we all take care of each other? Brenda.....PLEEEZ come with me!"
"Absolutely no rule that says she has to do a thing, Brenda we need you there. there are plently of us to take care of the grocery stop, the preparing of food. You just come relax."
And Mary Kay pointed out that she needed someone to stay and watch movies with her while the rest of us went dancing.
So once again, Brenda joined us in Port A, and I'll be eternally grateful to those wonderful friends who helped soothe her fears and mine so I could have another great weekend with my big sister.
Although she's always looked forward to taking that drive alone, this year Brenda hitched a ride with Patti, my sweet Deer Park Diva friend who joined us this year. And everyone stepped up to help her with whatever she needed, whether it was a drink, a steady hand, or just company.
Brenda has always been independent, always been the one to step up and help others, never worried about what anyone thought about her. She's stubborn and doesn't take crap off of anyone, but no matter what hurdle or trial she faced, her Pollyanna spirit shone through and helped her find a bright side.
So I know it was tough for her to admit her limitations, but even tougher to ask for help. To accept that help. But as usual, she faced that fear. By voicing it, she zapped it of its strength and found a way around it. And I'm glad.
What would I do if I were not afraid?
~ Martha E. Manglesdorf
I thought of Brenda when I read that quote yesterday, then I asked...What am I afraid of? What am I letting fear keep me from doing?
In the past, the fear of failure kept me from trying new things. While I'm no longer afraid of rejection slips, they still make me wince.
Too often I've let the fear of other people's opinions guide my steps instead of being true to myself and having faith in my own opinions. I've been afraid of speaking in public or standing in front of large crowds. (It kept me from taking part in my senior class play.) Now it doesn't bother me. Much.
Fear for my kids - for their health, happiness, work... heck, their very souls - hovers in the recesses of my heart, but I'm much better about turning that fear over to God and trusting Him to take care of it and show me how to help. I've found handing fears over to God is a great way to get rid of them.
A little harder to let go of is my fear of sinking deeper into debt. It's that fear - and the fear of Tom keeling over from the stress of it - that keeps me from diving headfirst into my writing and photography, buying equipment and books and attending all the conferences and courses that are "recommended".
But I've torn free from it enough to keep moving forward with those dreams, finding my way along the old, slower (free!) highways instead of the faster tollways.
So... what would you do if you weren't afraid?