A Tough Road Travelled

September 11, 2008
By Audrey Rehberg, Westfield, IN

Ever since I was a little girl, my nana has always been by my side helping me, giving advice, doing crafts, calling just to talk, explaining things, and teaching me how to live life as a Christian. She is my hero and my inspiration. Everything she does is done perfectly, whether it be writing a story, sewing a blanket, saying a prayer, making a garden, cooking a meal, or even raising three children. When I grow up, I pray that I will live life like she does. She always has a positive attitude and can help me get through anything. She has lived with lupus, raised two kids on her own, dealt with a divorce, and through all this, still remained a Christian the whole time.

When she turned two she went to live with her grandparents. Her father thought that it was best she went to his parents’ house because he did not think that they could take care of her. She was raised there until she turned eleven. Her grandparents were in a severe car accident that kidder her grandfather and left her grandmother in the hospital for a very long time. All the years growing up she lived with them. By the time she went back home to live her parents, she had three younger siblings there as well. So to her; consequently, it was like moving in with a whole new family. Even though they were all her immediate family, she had grown up without them. “One moment I was a happy, carefree 10 ½ year old on vacation with loving, doting family members, the next I was a stranger in a foreign land.” This is just like Odysseus whenever he was in a strange place that he had never been before. Like with Circe, the Lotus Eaters, and the Cyclops. He was unfamiliar, but stuck it out; courageously. To me, that is heroic because I would never be able to leave my family and go live with people I had not ever known. But soon she had a family of her own.

My grandma got married when she turned 17. She married a man named Fred Lang. Together they had my mom and her brother Scott. After seven years of marriage, when my mom was four and my nana was 24, they got a divorce. He had become a heavy drinker, and they couldn’t take it anymore. In result, she was left to take care of my mom and my uncle Scott alone. “The hardest thing about being a single mother was that I had no money, education, or emotional support with which to care for my children. There were no childcare facilities like there are today. I had to leave then with virtual strangers while I worked for poor paying jobs. I worked most of their growing up years, out of financial necessity, which left little time and energy to speak into their live the parts of me I wanted to share.” Odysseus had to leave his family for a long time also, and this is heroic because my family means the world to me, and I definitely would not have been that strong in that situation. That is very brave. But then… she met…the one!

Her profession was a nurse, and while at work, she met “the man for her.” They worked in the same building, and she said he spent an unusual amount of time in and out of her office. One day he got her phone number from the office files and asked her out on a date. “In a short time I realized he was a responsible and generous man, not only to me, but with the children and his own family. “ The eventually got married when my nana was 29, and had my mom’s second brother, Marc. All of this lead to a few more difficult experiences at home…

When she was 38, she looked out the window and saw that a violent storm was coming. She went outside to bring in the trashcans. While she was out there, the storm hit and a tree fell down on her. She describes it as “a very traumatic physical and emotion event and several months later, I was unable to physically carry out my daily routines because of my unusual fatigue.” She was then diagnosed with Lupus. The doctors told her that the stress from the tree incident most likely caused this. Lupus is an auto-immune response where her “fighter blood cells”, which normally attack invader cells, began to attack her normal cells. Modern medicines have helped control it, but it fatal in early years. “I was 38 and very frightened as I had three children, the youngest was five, and I didn’t know what my future would be.” This shows perseverance more than any other trait. She has showed me what it means to keep your head held high, and to stay in the race. God can help you through. Odysseus showed this by never giving up.

During all of these hardships in her life, she had faith in Jesus Christ. Making it through and learning all that she did just brought her that much closer to Him. “Getting Lupus was really a girl in disguise. I had spent many years looking for answers to puzzling questions in life in all the wrong places. Lupus slowed me down and caused me to be more deliberate in my search.” When she was diagnosed with Lupus, she was scared she would not live to raise her children. God helped to lead her to people that could bring her closer to Him through all this and guide her to the things she need to do to live her life for Him. “My hope is that my actions and decisions reflect more of who God intended me to be, rather than the old me that wore the mask of self-sufficiency and people pleasing, out of my insecurity.” My hero has put her life in God’s hands and has chosen to be a servant for Him. In return, he has blessed her with so much.

He has given her so many talents; I cannot even count them all. Every time she comes to visit, she and I do a different craft. They leave us busy as bees for her whole visit. Ever since she was a little girl she has been interested in sewing. She loves seeing a flat piece of fabric become three-dimensional and useful. Think of anything you do, and she could do it. She is very involved in her church and every week, writes pages of devotionals that are amazingly well written and worded; it makes me hope that I eventually write that wonderfully. She has always wanted to write a book, and hopes to in the future.

She is now living her life as a God-centered Christian. She is teaching me to do so as well. She has raised three amazing children and is helping to bring up nine grandchildren as well. “It is such a privilege to share times with my children laughing and watching them enjoy each other. What a serendipitous blessing.” She does not know what an impact she has had on my life, teaching me, helping me grow, showing me what to do, and telling me everything is going to be alright. She is the best nana I could have ever asked for. She says that “being a grandmother has been a deeply gratifying experience and I believe it has made me a better mother.” You could not get any better than her!

“My nana”: n. 1) my hero. 2) My inspiration. 3) My religious role-model. 4) What I hope to be like in the future. Also look in “amazing, phenomenal, brilliant, and faithful.” If she were a definition in the dictionary that is what I know it would say. She is my hero because she came through a tough childhood, went through a divorce, lived with Lupus, took care of children, kept faith in Jesus Christ, stayed positive, greatly and positively influenced grandchildren, put her talents to good use, and used her brilliance to spread the word of God through Daily Devotionals. She has taught me that even the worst things that happen to you in life can always bring something positive and well worth the pain through God. Like Lupus bringing her closer to Him, and answering questions she would have never gotten answered. My nana has shown me what it means to be a true Christian, and continues to teach me more and more every day. She is my hero, inspiration and role-model. She will always be the person that I look up to. One of my favorite ‘Nana Quotes’ is: “I find more joy in just being, without a pressure to always be doing, even on those days when my face doesn’t reflect it.”

The author's comments:
My nana how shown me what it's like to live life. Nana, you mean the world to me, and i love you more than anything!

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