By Michael Welch
A little over 33 years ago I was introduced to a woman who would change my life. This precipitated changing the lives of those around me as well. I wouldn’t normally dedicate an entire blog to someone, but this is a soul that’s worth sharing with everyone.
To clarify, some of the most influential people in my life have saved countries, discovered democracy, enforced equality, and deep-fried the Twinkie. (G-d bless you hostess: Whatever you need from us we will group together to assure the continued existence of that doughy flavored goodness.) Like many others, those who impact our lives give meaning and reason to stand up and fight, to invoke our constitution at the expense of being cast away. This particular individual has done exactly that. Her life purpose begins and ends with putting others first. Her name is not as prominent as Kennedy, Lincoln, or Albright. She never wanted it to be; rather her concern was for others to be recognized for who they are. This woman always shied away from credit, and the most shocking of all was that there was never any expectation of wanting anything in return. All that she asks is that you see what she sees.
The story that comes to mind, conveying the kind of person she is—is one of heroism and survival. Her love and service of others was multiplied 10 fold with her family, and when someone was ever in need she was always the first responder. Faced with a family member’s drug addiction that had spiraled out of control, she traversed across the country to intervene. For those of you who are not familiar with an intervention, there is no amount of preparation or knowledge one could have going into such a hostile environment. Seeing the state of her family member made it evident that something had to be done. Through the process of putting together immediate and necessary services, the unexpected happened. Medical emergencies arose and it appeared that the possibility of losing this family member was becoming a reality. Most people crumble at this point, others shut down. What Lori did was exceptional. Given the traumatic nature of the situation, she refused to put herself in a position where she was helpless. At 51 years of age she decided to become a nurse. The only problem was that she was without the proper credentials for this field. Lori enrolled in school as one of the “mature” students and began her path in a career that she later claimed to be “life changing”. She finished in the national honors society with a 4.0 GPA. She was immediately chosen for an internship and is now a full time nurse. She volunteers on the board of her local hospital, has logged thousands of Hospice hours, and spent every waking moment at the side of her best friend who was taken by cancer. Her actions reveal that you cannot change the past, but can employ it as provocation to better your future. This display of the power of choice is one of a kind. This is how you become influential. This is my mom.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to sit down and spend some time with my idol. I noticed the following: When we spoke I was the only person that existed, her timing was perfect as I was never interrupted and her pauses could still carry the conversation. If her knowledge base was limited, you would never know. When the influential speak we tune in, what we are about to hear is consequential, there is a message, we are called to attention. To identify our leaders is essential; they pave the pathway to progress poetically.
I wish everyone saw the world as you do mom, because if they did you would still shine as the extraordinary women you are. That’s just who you are. So from me to you; I am a better man, you have given me a standard. I’ll never forget what you went through and how you were able to turn a tragic situation into grace. I’ll never be you, but if there was anyone I’d want to be it is you. Thank you. I love you.