There are many people that I have grown to admire throughout my life. There is the obvious: my parents for not allowing my disability to be a reason for failure, my mom for raising four wonderful children with two of them being disabled, the Little Sis for being my go-to caretaker, the Big Sis for making her faith andfamily a priority, the Payne family for asking me to be a part of their family so I would no longer have caretaking issues, and Janet for everything she does for me and for her ability to teach ELL children. “When I grow up”, I pray I will have just a small thread of what I have learned from each one of these people woven through my soul.
But “when I grow up” I really want to be like my “sistah” Rhonda. Rhonda is one of the ooooooooriginal “sistahs”. Caren and I have always called her our "sistah from anothah mothah". I met Rhonda eons ago. She was an office aide at Peralta Elementary where I taught for twenty years. I also had the opportunity to teach her daughter, Erica in the fifth grade. From that moment on we became fast friends. Rhonda moved to Iowa many years ago, and usually a huge mileage separation ends a friendship, but not with Rhonda.
I admire Rhonda for so many reasons.
First, the “sistah” worked her way up from elementary school office aide to John Deere Corp. muckity-muck. She works in the golf division and travels all over the country checking on equipment used by golf courses. P. S., she is not that great of a golfer, but that is because she doesn’t have the time to practice for the sport. Rhonda has the job that Caren would kill for. It is a good thing Rhonda is a “sistah”, or we might find her shoved in a John Deere golf bag floating in a water hazard somewhere.
Rhonda is always happy. I know that is a big, fat lie, and I know she spends many hours being sad, but she doesn’t let anyone know. She is always facing adversity, but she does it with a smile on her face. Many times it is a smile with gritted teeth, but it is a smile.
Rhonda is a mother bear. She will fight for her cubs. Rhonda has a younger daughter (not Erica) that has given her an exorbitant amount burden, but the mother bear is still fighting for her cub. She and her daughter, Erica (I taught her everything she knows. :), are now caring and fighting for the younger daughter’s cubs. I can’t imagine what could have happened to Rhonda’s grandchildren, if Rhonda and Erica hadn’t taken on caring for those cubs.
Rhonda has road rage. Now, the reader might think that road rage is not an admirable quality, but I believe her road rage is catharsis for all her burdens. Her participation in road rage releases all her anger. When Road Rage Rhonda is chauffeuring me I spend most of my time giggling. I wouldn’t give Rhonda the keys to any heavy equipment, but I would give her the keys to a tank. She would take care of the problems in the Middle East.
Rhonda is always up for an adventure. Rhonda used to drag race. Not like drag race on Central, but on a real track in an actual dragster. (That is probably when the road rage started because she is used to driving at high speeds.) Rhonda is up for anything. Rhonda is the one that is always saying, “Come on, Cathy, let’s go for it!” That is why she and Caren became such great friends. I have always thought Rhonda and Caren should participate in The Amazing Race. Rhonda would make sure that Caren bungee jumped without whining.
Rhonda is a caretaker. When I met her she was caring for her brother-in-law that had been injured in a diving accident. I believe that is why she honed in on me. Deep down in her caretaking heart there was a drive to make sure that I was okay. She still travels to Phoenix a couple times a year to “care” for me. She disguises her visits as trips for work, or to bring the grandchildren to visit, but I know she just wants to “see with her own eyes” that I am okay.
Rhonda is a warrior. Years ago she began her battle against cervical cancer. Rhonda spent years going through many different kinds of treatments. She spent endless nights lying on the cool bathroom floor next to the toilet and then dragging herself off to work everyday with a smile on her face. Rhonda has lived on a diet of Popsicles because it was the only thing she could keep down. Rhonda has kept her faith. She has never once wavered in her love for God. And during her long, hard-fought battle Rhonda has always gone to work and done her job well, cared for her family and friends, and continued to fight. Only once did Rhonda call me and say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” And I selfishly replied, “You can’t give up because you are my hero and heroes don’t give up.”
Warrior Rhonda won her battle against cervical cancer, but she has yet to win the war. Due to the many side effects of her many cancer treatments, Rhonda is now facing a complication. She has a problem with circulation to her extremities. A few weeks ago some of Rhonda’s fingers started turning black and she had to spend a week in the hospital, and she has puzzled the doctors. Rhonda is in tremendous pain. By the way, don’t ask her a basic on a pain scale of one to ten question; she prefers the wine pain scale of one glass to an entire bottle. Of course, she will lie and say she is at two glasses when she is really at two bottles. I know things are bad because Rhonda canceled her trip to meet Little Sis and Big Sis in Dallas for a Women of Faith Conference. When Rhonda turns down a “Stop, or I’ll Pee” giggle festival with the “sistahs” one knows thing aren’t good.
I am sure Rhonda is at home right now figuring out how she can mask her pain, hide her fingers, and get to work. And to all the drivers in the Des Moines area, if you happen to look in your rear view mirror and see a wild-eyed, skinny blonde shaking her fist at you, don’t worry it is just Road Rage Rhonda working through her pain.
Rhonda is my hero. When I grow up I want to be like Rhonda. Rhonda’s thread that weaves through my soul is golden. Please keep “sistah” Rhonda in your prayers because she needs more warriors in her platoon.
“Sistah” Rhonda doesn’t like d-o-g-s, but she always pretends that she does. Hmmmm, a woman that fakes it! What’s new?
The Flip Side
“Sistah” Rhonda is an adventurer? I wonder if she is up for a lizard hunt?