When She Smiles
By Brandie Kulmus
For my loving mother, Kandie Kulmus
Her world was falling apart, but she still smiled. Her life was changing drastically, but she still smiled. Her health was failing, but she still smiled. Her body grew tired and weak, but she still smiled. Her eyes were sore and puffy, but she still smiled. Her children were breaking, but she still smiled.
My mom had no choice but to smile. When my dad had his stroke, she was the one we kids relied on. We looked to her for answers, comfort, support, signs of something wrong, but my mom always made sure we knew that things would be okay. Five years ago my dad suffered a Bilateral Brainstem stroke. He was hospitalized for 2 months, and had to relearn how to do everything a typical person does on a daily basis. My mom was his backbone. She was by his side every moment she possibly could be. With 10 kids, five of them still at home, she had to learn how to be there for my dad but be there for her children at the same time. My dad was hospitalized in a hospital hours from our home. My mom lived in a hotel room for those months. She saw her children every weekend and took care of them from that hotel room. Living without your mom is hard. I can’t imagine what my mom went through sleeping alone every night and sitting by the love of her life who was basically a vegetable. But guess what, she still smiled.
If my mom has taught me anything that has changed my life completely, it would be that I need to smile no matter what. A smile can change the world. Something so simple and small has a great impact on life. Because my mom continued to smile and laugh throughout this terrible trial, I was able to smile and laugh. Now I’m not saying that my mom has had it easy, or that she has always been positive; because she hasn’t. As the years went on after the stroke, my dad improved and then fell back two steps. My mom was buried in medical bills. Not to mention, she had to quit her job to take care of him, and she was putting so much into my dad and us kids she completely stopped taking care of her own health.
A year ago my mom was sick with the flu, or so we thought. One night my sister forced her to go to the hospital because of the way she was acting. My mom had somehow developed a disease inside of her. She had C-diff. C-diff is a bacteria that overgrows and starts eating the lining of your intestines, causing you to be sick and have uncontrollable symptoms. She was put into isolation because C-diff is very contagious. We, all the girls that she was still raising, were now left at home with our disabled father and our mother in the hospital. My mom’s doctor told her that she had one foot in the door of death. Sometimes she can be stubborn and not worry about herself, but something we should always remember is that we can be strong and courageous, but sometimes we need others help to get us by! My first thought when my mom was hospitalized and told she could die was, “How in the world am I going to get by without my mom around again!? She is my rock!!” “
Everyone says that our trials come for reasons we don’t always know or understand. None of us understand why our family had to go through these severe trials, but I can tell you one thing. Heavenly Father sent my family this trial to show my siblings, dad, and I how strong our mother really is. My mom is the strongest woman I know and without her guidance and comfort and strength, I don’t think our family could’ve gotten through these trials.
So I guess the moral of my story here is that no matter what, you should smile. My mother chose to smile and to show her children that things would be alright even if she didn’t believe it. She deserves the biggest shout out for raising kids for 40 years and then having to take care of my dad. She may have not always been positive, but she always relied on the Lord and prayer to get herself back up again. She is my greatest role model and my true hero. I know its cliché to say this and people will disagree, but my mom is by far the best mother, woman, wife, caregiver, and friend anyone could ever have. I am beyond blessed to have her as my mother and best friend. I would never take back the trials our family has been through because without them, I would’ve taken my mom for granted and would’ve looked past the smile that kept me going.
I love you so much mom! Thank you for showing me that even when times are tough, we can still smile and get through them. Thank you for showing me how to be a selfless young woman and how to put others first. Thank you for enduring all that you have and for showing me exactly who I want to be in a mother and friend and wife. Heavenly Father is truly proud of you and I thank Him daily for sending me the best angel Heaven had to offer. Continue to be your beautiful, selfless, loving, self. I know that you can get through anything thrown your way, all you have to do is believe in yourself, just like me and the rest of the family believe in you. Don’t ever stop showing your perfect smile. Some days that smile is the only thing that keeps me going. I love you.
Story written by: Brandie Kulmus
This story was seen first on Real Imprints.