There is something I learned at my sister’s funeral last year that was evident at Sidney’s memorial as well. People don’t always share the full scope of who they are with everyone they know. A friend told me that sometimes the person wants it that way. I respect private people. I really do. But what concerns me is people who aren’t being private on purpose, but are so giving of themselves that they focus on other people so much that we don’t get to know all the wonderful attributes they have or realize the many accomplishments that they have achieved.
A diamond in the rough. A person with unlimited potential. A humble person who does not need to or want to call attention to themself. A caring person who makes the effort to get to know you and help you, asking for nothing in return. I could be describing my sister, Karen, or my friend, Sidney.
At my sister’s funeral in July of 2011, many people came to me and said they didn’t know Karen had started a group called Humanitarian Efforts and had sponsored an orphanage in Mexico. And people who worked with her on that didn’t know that she was a soccer mom and had volunteered at the local elementary school, and some people never even knew she had a sister!
I found out so much about Sid at her memorial. I missed out on getting to know her better. I am lucky to have known her at all. She was a remarkable woman! I was touched by the testimonial that was shared by her co-worker who described her many accomplishments with installing computer systems and her extensive expertise in technology. I did not know that she worked in I.T., like my husband. I was aware of how she loved her sorority sisters, but I did not know that she had a group of guy friends and was considered “one of the guys!” Her close friends from high school and college suffered a huge loss with her passing. I knew that she was a regular at Olive’s and Tallyrand, but I had no idea what a “family” and support system that community was for her! I did not read all of the many posts on her blog and I knew very little about her relationship with her boyfriend of fourteen years, or with her beloved family. I did not know that she had a sister, until I learned all of this after she passed.
What I did know about Sidney Patrick is that she was a lovely person with a beautiful smile. She was the creator and a leader of the group that I am in on Facebook, the So Cal Lady Bloggers. Sidney was welcoming and encouraging. She read everything that I wrote and she was the person who commented the most on my blog. She had a very sharp wit, excellent sense of humor and was a gifted writer. Her blog, My Mother-in-Law Still Sits Between Us, is about hoarding and how it affects the adult children of hoarders. She became an expert in that field and was interviewed on Huffington Post Live as such just a few weeks before she died. She made an impact in the world of hoarding and was devoted to educating and helping people who were affected by it. Sidney Patrick, like my sister, made a difference in our world.
Besides significantly making a difference in the lives others, having an infectious smile and the ability to be a gracious hostess, Sidney and Karen had something else in common. They both died too young, and they both died of complications due to Liver Disease. Liver Disease and Diabetes run in my family. I have Diabetes. I have the pre-cursor to Liver Disease; high triglycerides and a border-line fatty liver. My mother died of Cirrhosis of the Liver (NASH). My aunt (my mother’s twin sister) died of it. My sister died of it. They all also had Diabetes. There is something else that my sister and Sidney had in common, they did not talk about their disease. They down-played their own suffering. They were martyrs in their own right. They did not do for themselves that they would have done for countless others, what they would have done to help anyone else that they loved, they did what they always did when it came to something being about themselves, they selflessly kept it private. If I learn nothing from their stellar examples as humanitarians, from the beauty and peace that they brought countless people as the angels that they were, if I am unable to live up to that potential, I must learn from their fatal flaw. . . I hope that I will not have that in common with them.
I realize now that this is why I started a journal blog. I am about lots of things and I want to be fully apparent to all who know me. I am not private. I want my friends to know what I am all about. Who I am, completely. I have not yet discussed my health issues on my blog because until now I wanted to share only the positive things that happen in my life. I realize now that I must make this a positive. I must share the things that I do to manage my health, to improve my health, to avoid an early death. I must give it the same effort that I would give to anyone else that comes to me for help. In helping myself live a healthier life, I can help others.
The potential to help others is limitless. My sister can help others with Diabetes and Liver Disease throughme. After she died, I thought I would carry on with her humanitarian efforts. I thought I could help children in Nigeria who had been orphaned and then sold into slavery. I tried. I am not sure if anything that I did made a difference for anyone. But, I vow I will do my best to make a difference in my life. I will help myself and my family to live longer, healthier lives. I believe I can do that. I can make a change, a difference. I will commit myself to that.
Correction. I will re-commit myself to that. I must admit, that I fell silent. I have even been ignoring my disease. After my mother passed away in February 2005, and my sister was diagnosed, I was tested at Karen’s urging. I found out that I too had the pre-disposition for Diabetes and Liver Disease. I had high triglycerides and high blood sugar levels. At that time I did tons of research to find out anything I could do to improve my health. As it is for most health issues, a regiment of exercise and a specific diet is recommended. I found out about every kind of food that is bad for the liver and pancreas and all the nutrients that are good for the digestive organs and the immune system. I made a list of the foods I should eat and the foods I should avoid. I followed the diet strictly and I improved my triglyceride level to better than normal and my liver did not appear enlarged when I had an ultrasound. I maintained a healthy blood sugar level and I did not have to test my blood sugar. I achieved something at that point that doctors rarely see, in fact they said it could not be done.
And then, last year, my sister died after her long-awaited liver transplant fell through and her suffering came to an end. For some reason, I lightened up on the regiment. I gained weight. I am now taking medicine to control the Diabetes. I feel pain in my abdomen after large meals and I have been eating the dreaded meats and all the other things that are on my “no-no” list. I am killing myself and I do not know why. Sidney’s death shocked me into reality. I can do something about this. I will do something and I will be open and honest about it. I will blog about it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Hopefully, mostly good.
So, I start now. With this ode to Sidney and Karen who inspire me in countless ways. I start now with this blog post. I start now, with enrolling in a nutrition class lead by Carol Takakura of Creative Wellness with Carol that I will be writing about weekly. I start now, by blogging 30 posts in 30 days for National Health Blog Post Month with @wegohealth. I start now by using my list, following the regiment and living a healthy lifestyle. I can’t go back. I can’t change anything that happened or anything that I did or didn’t do. I can’t help Sidney or Karen or my mom or my aunt. But I can help myself and my kids. I start now.
If you are interested in having a copy of my List of “Healthy Eating Choices” to promote a healthier lifestyle, Click Here: Healthy Eating Choices
Tags: 30 posts in 30 days, angels, Carol Takakura, community, Creative Wellness With Carol, diabetes, Diet, family, health, Healthy Lifestyles, hoarding, Huffington Post, Humanitarian Efforts, Karen Martin, life achievements, Liver Disease, make a difference, NASH, National Health Blog Post Month, Nutrition, people, Sidney Patrick, sisters, So Cal Lady Bloggers, soccer mom, sorority sisters, start now, suffering loss, support system, The List, WEGO Health, wegohealth