Mother’s Day in Lebanon is actually celebrated in March on the first day of spring (somewhere around March 20 or 21). This is also the case in several other countries, from what I’ve heard. So I’ve never really celebrated Mother’s Day in May (except maybe when I was very little in the American school I attended in Saudi Arabia, but I can’t remember). In any case, to me everyday is Mother’s and Father’s Day because every single day I am so thankful for being blessed with such wonderful and loving parents.
But this is not what this post is about. This post is a dedication to one of my aunts (my mom’s sister). She was married once (but is divorced) and never had any children. Yet she is like a mother to so many of my cousins and myself. She’s a very special woman who would absolutely die of embarrassment if she ever knew this post is about her.
Many people consistently share their stories and the many ups and downs they have been through in life, but not my aunt. She’s one of the strongest women I have ever known. And she’s been through a lot. More than the majority of people I know.
She was born and raised in Lebanon during a time when parents married off their daughters as soon as they were “of age,” which usually meant around 18. But she fought against that standard and left Lebanon, eventually living in the US.
She has been a flight attendant and has even lived across the street from Cary Grant, who once sent her so many roses that she had to put them in her bath tub because that’s the only place they would all fit in her apartment.
She’s fought cancer not once, but twice in her life and never says anything about it. The first time she had breast cancer, it was caught early – thankfully – and she only told a few close friends and my parents. She didn’t even tell her own parents, who were still alive at the time, because she didn’t want them to worry. She went through the surgery on her own. She did chemo all on her own. And she even did radiation therapy on her own.
Just to further describe how strong willed she is: when she had to have chemo, she would take her lunch break and head down to the hospital/clinic, do chemo, and then go back to work. Never saying a word about it to anyone. Never complaining. Just doing what she needed to do to get better.
Last year in early spring she found out she had uterine cancer. So in she went again for surgery – very big surgery. And once again she told very few people. I asked her if she needed me to come and stay with her, but she said no (she was pretty adamant about it).
After recovering from surgery, she went on to do 6 months of intensive chemotherapy. Again. She lost all her hair and her eyebrows. It was even more physically taxing than the last time, but again, she never complained. She took one month off in the summer (as she always does because her job allows for it), but after that, she was going to chemo, on her own, and going to work.
Once chemo was done, on to radiation therapy. Again. Two weeks ago she had a full scan and was pronounced clear. At least for now.
I look up to her not only for everything that she has achieved in her life, but for the strong woman that she is. I want to be like her and have that inner strength to keep pushing on no matter what life throws my way. I don’t find that quality in many people these days, and not even in myself.
She fought against the social and cultural tide when she was a young woman and she takes life one day at a time, forging forward no matter what.
I love you Khaltou (Arabic for “aunt”), and hope you live a long, healthy life.