I spent the day unpacking my aunt's things and arranging her furniture in her new room at Crestview Nursing Home in Waco. It's hard to believe that just two years ago, she was getting around every bit as good as I do and probably had more energy.
That's her - in the photo - with her beloved Santa Gertruda herd in the background. Aunt Mary is one of the most remarkable people I've ever known. She spent most of her life teaching school and her students truly loved her, many of them keeping in touch with her decades after she entered their lives. All the while, she also ran a successful cow/calf operation on her ranch near Crawford, Texas.
Two years ago, shortly after this photo was taken, she suffered a minor stroke. In the last 20 months, she's had repeated strokes that have left her weak and frail, crippled and bent in body - but her spirit soars with the eagles. She has absolutely no bitterness about her declining physical abilities and seems to have no fear about what the future might hold in that regard. She has mastered every walker she's had to graduate to and is getting the hang of the scooter chair pretty fast.
Aunt Mary's room at the nursing home is complete with her big screen LCD flat screen TV, her complete computer set up with high speed internet connection, a fax machine and shredder. She had me decorate the room just like her assisted living apartment had been before she had to move because she was quickly becoming non-ambulatory. Dave Ramsey would love Aunt Mary. She writes down every penny she spends every single day. She pays cash for everything and has for many years. She's had the same financial manager all her adult life and she pays attention to what he does with her investments.
She's everything I ever hope to be one day - financially responsible, fiercly independent, outrageously optimistic and spiritually brave about what the future holds for me. Do I think I'll ever be there? Not really. I'm far too emotional, take too many risks and live a little more on the edge than Aunt Mary ever has.
I don't think I'll ever change that much because my spirit is different than hers. But I have to admit that I have unbelievable admiration for her. So, at least for today, Aunt Mary is my hero.