Posted by: gaylejervis | April 27, 2011


What do you do on the days when your perseverance and your positive attitude and your hope has taken a short sabbatical?  What do you do when one more symptom – even just the common cold has invaded your immune system and you are unsure how many more resources you have to keep afloat? 

Well, today as I sit in bed, sad that I had to cancel my grandson’s Wednesday visit with me,  I think about my pain mentors.

I don’t remember a day that my Dad didn’t suffer from back and knee pain even though he had had several surgeries that had been on the cutting edge of medical advances at that time.  One of my fondest memories   are a result of  my habitually waking in the middle of the night to go for a glass of water and my Dad would be sitting in the kitchen smoking a cigarette awake due to his pain.  His kitchen chair was sideways so that his back could rest against the solid cold wall.  We would chat quietly as Mom and my sister were sleeping.  I know that he also succumbed to discouragement wishing desperately that those surgeries had alleviated some of the chronic pain.

  And yet, he taught me perseverance.  He taught me the importance of helping others in spite of the pain you endured.  I remember when Greg decided he wanted to build his own garage and Dad, recognizing that his health was worsening, worried whether Greg would have enough help from others.  And yes, you guessed it – it was Dad that pulled up to our house every day with a hammer in his hand.  He quietly increased taking his pain medication and he stood by his son-in-law making sure that this garage was built properly!  Those of us who are chronically ill don’t even have to wonder whether he suffered greatly after this expenditure of energy, but he never made Greg aware of that.

So as I sit here overwhelmed by my symptoms, I am strengthened by memories of my Dad’s perseverance and especially by his ability to still care for others in spite of his pain.

I have written before of my admiration for my Mom who also endured many illnesses including malignant melanoma   which eventually metastasized to her stomach and killed her.    I could give examples of her perseverance and her compassion for others but it was her sense of humor that buoys me up and tells me how to face this day.  It is a rare woman who could have a belly laugh an hour before the surgery that was going to remove her stomach.  And that is what we did when she realized that she had to go to the bathroom after these inflatable leg warmers were attached to her leg.  Tears were streaming down the nurse’s eyes, her eyes and mine as she mastered getting to the bathroom and sitting on the toilet still attached to all the medical paraphernalia. 

I think also of Greg’s Aunt who has suffered from extreme rheumatoid arthritis.  She didn’t know until the hour of   my daughter’s baby shower whether she could manage the pain well enough to drive into the city and attend my daughter’s shower.  But she did it!!  And then I witnessed Greg’s Uncle who has many health problems come and pick her up.  He was not concerned about his failing health; he just wanted to tenderly help his wife into their car.  His only regret was that he doubted whether she would be able to go with him to a furniture store where he had seen  a love seat he wanted to purchase so that they could snuggle together and watch television with “his Honey!”

Each one of these people were determined not to have their lives completely controlled by their health issues.  Each one of these people did their best not to have their illness dominate their thoughts and actions.  They refused to let their values be overshadowed by their illnesses.  Their ability to still care about others and to laugh even when the circumstances were grim is inspiring and – today, I hold tightly to my mentors and thank God for these cloud of witnesses in Heaven and on Earth.  I can only hope that if you are suffering in pain, you are blessed also with pain mentors.



  1. I have seen pictures of your mom before and even met her a few times. She definitely was ‘quite the woman’. However, I think this is the first picture I have seen of your father. My first impression was that I had seen him before. He reminded me of someone. Yes, it was Jesse! Amazing likeness. I would even say YOU look a lot like him. Handsome man! Appears that the gene pool in your family has determination, true grit and good looks too! “Hang in there, baby”! Sunday’s coming!

  2. Thanks, Gayle – Your writing continues to encourage me – perseverance to keep going – applies to emotional pain also.

  3. Glad to hear you are fighting the Good fight, God bless you dear sister. Feeling your pain in fl.

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