My inspiration

I have never been an athlete, but once, when I was a young adult, I ran in a 10k race. 6.2 miles is a long way to go, even if I was only traveling at a jog. I finished the race and didn’t have any ill effects from the experience. I got a t-shirt out of the deal. I have a lot of t shirts and I had no need for one that advertised the sponsors of an obscure fund raising event. I can’t even remember who we were raising funds to support.

Although I’m not disciplined about competitive athletics, I live a pretty good imagination, so i can imagine that it feels pretty good to achieve victory in an athletic competition. I, however, channeled some of my competitive spirit into academics. I started my college career on academic probation. It turned out to be a meaningless thing, but because I had not graduated from high school when I was admitted to college, my first semester grades were used as a judge of my ability to participate in a college educational program. Had my grades dipped too low, I would have been required to go back and finish high school before being allowed to continue with my college career. I was determined not to let that happen. I outlined each reading assignment. I kept copious lecture notes. I over-prepared for every test. I over-researched and over-wrote every assigned paper. I managed to get a 4.0 grade point average for my first semester. My achievement was noted by the dean who included me on the list for the semester. I manage to stay on the dean's list every semester of my college career.

I don’t mean to brag, but my grades were only part of the story.

You see, I began my college career with something else. I had a new girlfriend. I had taken her to prom the spring before I left high school and by the fall when I entered college, I was interested in many more dates and opportunities to be with her. She was tall and beautiful and very smart. She achieved a 4.0 gpa for her first semester’s work in college.

The competition was on. We dated. We studied. We honed study techniques and we fell in love. During our sophomore year our commitment to each other was pretty clear. We married during the summer following our junior year. We worked hard at keeping our grades up.

Good college grades is partly having good study skills and partly simply working very hard. You can learn to discern a professor’s expectations for a course and discipline yourself to exceed them.

While we were both trying to impress the other with our scholarly ways and ability to earn grades, our competition was always friendly. She proofread my papers and taught me to spell. I typed papers for her.

I admired her academic skills and performance. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be liked by her.

We both made the Dean’s list every semester of our undergraduate studies. We ended up in the #1 and #2 places in our class: valedictorian and salutatorian. At our senior awards presentation the Dean presented academic achievement awards and said that he couldn’t wait to meet our children. It turned out to be a good prediction. They both are brilliant, but that is another story or two.

What I knew is that my wife was a hard worker, willing to do more than was asked, more than was expected. She has continued to impress me with her work ethic ever since. She continues to be a model for me of the kind of person I aspire to become. She not only is the best student, she is the best wife, the best mother, the best pastor and teacher. We continued to share our work life after graduation. We went to graduate school and, for the past 4 decades have always served the same congregation together. We are currently the longest serving clergy couple in our denomination and the only one who has served continuously in the same congregation for all of our careers.

The day that our son was born, I was impressed in a new way with my wife’s ability to work. The labor was long and it was intense. She put in an incredible 14-hour day, much of it involving intense, full energy work. The results speak for themselves. I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a single human being putting forth such a sustained effort for such a long period of time. Trust me, it made the 10k run seem like a diddling performance by comparison.

This week she did it again. She has impressed me with her ability to work harder and show more strength than I’ve ever previously witnessed. I am awed by her dedication to following instructions from doctors and nurses and therapists and strive for recovery after a terrible near death experience.

She has always been capable of impressing me. She has always been capable of inspiring me.

She is not only strong, but she is gracious. Every one who has worked to serve her healing has been impressed with her charm and personality. She says “thank you” a thousand times each day, greeting each nurse, therapist, doctor, aid, lab technician and janitor by name. I can see their reactions. We've been told over and over again, "You are my favorite patient." They are falling in love just like I did so long ago and continue to do each day.

She has never won an award for athletics. In college she took the simplest PE courses available to meet the liberal arts college requirement. While I took trampoline and diving courses, she took “recreational activities.” They even played pool as part of the class. She is, however, the strongest person I have ever met.

This week I am grateful for her strength. We all are given only one body and one brain. There are lots of choices as to how we use them. She has chosen to take care of herself. None of us, however, will escape the realities of health and human mortality. She has explored the edge where life and death meet and continued to live. I will forever be impressed with the strength she has demonstrated this week. I will forever be grateful for the hard work she has invested.

She is my inspiration. I still want to be like her when I grow up.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!