Mother’s Day is this Sunday but there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t cherish and adore the most inspirational woman in my life.
Carolyn Lee Christianson brought me into the world nearly 34 years ago and molded me into the man I am today. She taught me to never take things for granted and always appreciate what you have because you never know when you are going to lose it.
But the most important thing I learned from my mom is to never give up no matter what challenge stands in front of you.
And my mom, a single parent who has battled a discomforting disease for more than 35 years, could have easily thrown in the towel long ago.
Two years before I was born in 1972, my mom was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but it can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. The disease can be very painful at times and causes reoccurring abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and weight loss.
My mom has endured six major surgeries. Her digestive system looks like chopped liver. She only has two-thirds of her stomach and she has had nearly four feet of large intestine and 13 feet of small intestine cut out from her body during those operations.
“This is not any fun, Billy,” she would always say when the disease flared up.
In 1980, when I was six, my parents got divorced. With little money and lots of drive, my mom worked full-time in addition to starting up her own business, Valley Bookkeeping.
She said she started her business so she could have a flexible schedule. Some days, she could barely get out of bed because of Crohn’s, so a 9-to-5 job was hard to do.
Despite the challenges that she faced, my mom always persevered, but then in 1986, things hit rock bottom. She underwent two major surgeries — with no insurance — and was forced to go on welfare because she had no money and her health didn’t allow her to work. Her business was put on hold and she almost lost her house because she couldn’t make payments.
And to make matters even more challenging, throughout all of this, she had to take care of a rambunctious 12-year-old boy who really didn’t understand the real pain she was enduring.
Friends and family rallied around my mom, helping her out with money and moral support.
Mom never gave up and things look much brighter these days.
In 1996, my mom finally had enough clients to work full-time for herself, meaning she didn’t have to work two jobs anymore. Five years ago, she finally paid off the $250,000 in medical bills. Of her six surgeries, she had insurance for only one.
While her financial situation is thriving after near disaster, the battle against Crohn’s is endless, she said.
Some days are better than others, but as my mom says, “I’m not one to give up easy.”
Like many, I sometimes forget when Mother’s Day is, but I will never forget what my mother went through to become the wonderful woman she is today.