Growing up on a small family farm in the US and being the grand-daughter of a well-known auctioneer (long before eBay), I knew what it took to be self-employed and work very hard to provide for a family. On our family farm we had long days, blood, sweat, and tears to plant and harvest crops. We planted lots of trees on our farm in which I was in charge of de-weeding them along with my family. My grandpa would stop over to check on all of us at times. He would ask to see my hands. After showing him my hands and callouses from working all day, he would say “you are such a hard worker. Those hard spots are proof of hard work“.
At auction sales my grandpa would hand me the microphone to speak or introduce the sale or just say hi to the crowd of buyers then off I would go to the clerk’s office to add up numbers and the chuckwagon to serve food. At the age of 6, I worked for my family with all of this. My entrepreneurship ideas were only beginning!
As time passes on and I grow into a young adult, my grandpa got diagnosed with skin cancer. He spent most of his working days in the sun but this was only the start of more cancer to come. It eventually spread throughout his body in the years to come.
During all of this time, I had been going to college part-time for my associate degree; a single parent of one strong boy with NO welfare assistance to hand over freely; but working full time to make ends meet. My associate degree took me 7 years to complete with all the personal life stuff going on but I knew I had to continue to do this on my own and didn’t want any assistance from the government programs.
One day while sitting in the waiting room at the hospital to see the outcome of my grandpa‘s surgery, I was visiting with our parish church’s nurse. In this conversation with Joan, she had wondered what I was doing now. I was finished with my associate degree in science at that point but didn’t want to spend more money on college until I knew the next step of my career. I was just working and continuing to be a mommy. Through this conversation, she asked me if I would consider going into occupational therapy. The look on my face must have said it all, just like what I see from people myself now. “What in the world is occupational therapy?”
Well the wheels started to spin on this idea from Joan. Time passed... marriage, and one more strong boy on the way, I did research on this “foreign“ subject of OT. I knew right away that this had -me- written all over it. Starting this application process to get into a program started and my advanced degree was becoming a light at the end of an unknown tunnel.
My grandpa then in a nursing home with cancer, Parkinson’s, and other ailments, was informed of this fabulous news- going to school to be an OT & a baby boy on the way in September. If anyone knows the symptoms of one of these ugly diseases, my grandpa usually had a ”stone face” to any information, exciting or not. He cried happy tears for this all news. He said ”well honey, no matter what you do you will do it well and with your whole heart“. At the age of 80 (only 28 days of being in the nursing home), my dear grandpa was taken to heaven to be an angel to watch over the rest of us on earth.
From that point on, I knew I had to continue to work hard, give it all I had, and always keep his words and memory as part of my work. After completing my degrees, I also went onto get a certificates in: cancer rehab, lymphedema, cognitive behavioral, mental health integrative medicine provider, and training for trauma sensitive schools while operating a private practice as an entrepreneur. Each day doesn’t go by without the lessons and compassion for others like my grandpa taught me. ❣️