Today June 10th marks another birthday for me. No, I won’t tell you when I was born.  This milestone causes me to reflect on many things happening in our society.  Chelsea Clinton’s recently published book entitled, She Persisted, caught my attention and birthed realizations and appreciation deep within me. Chelsea’s book is intended to teach children about the struggles and victories of courageous women, like Rosa Parks, Elizabeth Warren and Loretta Scott King. Women who refused to give up when the going got tough. I want to applaud Chelsea, her book and all the women she recognizes. However I cannot stop there.

I must humbly and gratefully acknowledge my mother, Gloria Hulse Richards who brought me into this world because “she persisted”. As a young adult woman, my mother was told she would never have children because of physical problems that couldn’t be corrected. Nevertheless she persisted and had radical surgery with no guarantees. She became the mother of three children. I was never told much about her pregnancy with me. However on every birthday I was reminded how I came into this world. I was born spontaneous birth, breach, in the back of an ambulance on the way to the Portsmouth Naval Hospital. Nevertheless my mother persisted. When we arrived at the hospital my mother was placed on a miscarriage ward, a floor below me. I was put on a ward for premature babies, there was no prenatal unit. When my mother asked for her baby so she could nurse him, she was told that she didn’t have a baby; suggesting that her baby had died in birth which wasn’t true. Nevertheless my mother persisted and hours after my delivery, she crawled up the flight of steps to the floor I was on in order to find me and feed me.

These events are simply two of a long laundry list of incredible challenges that my mother marched up to and over. She raised five children in a blended family through good and bad times; she battled mental health issues and bankruptcy. Nevertheless my mother persisted. She was a survivor who managed to make lemonade out of all life’s lemons. She persisted to the bitter end as dementia closed its dark arms around her in the last weeks of her life.

I believe my mother’s persistence is a legacy lived out in the lives of her family. “Nevertheless she persisted” is an appropriate hashtag for my mother’s daughter, daughter-in-laws and granddaughters.  As I enjoy another birthday, I take time to say thank you Mom, for my birthday, for your incredible persistence, for what you did and what you taught me and all who follow your example.

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