Women Who Carry Their Baskets
My mother, Paula Leachman, is a woman who has always carried her own basket. By that what I mean is, she is a woman who has made a series of choices regarding her life, and has lived by them. She did this when times were good and it was easy, and she did this when times were hard. In particular, she made the choice at 18 to marry my dad. She chose him and that was that, as she would say. She signed on to a vagabond life in football; orchestrating over 13 major moves; raising 3 children alone for half of every year; handling all of the banking and finances; dealing with all of the educational issues; and, even dressing my dad due to his horrible taste.
But the heaviest basket she has carried was my father’s decline from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). That decline started early (in the mid 1990s), when my father was in his early 60s, and progressed slowly over 18 years, until my dad’s death in 2012. My mother covered for him in the early years. She taught him to read again when he lost that function. She made sure he was clean, and shaved, and properly dressed. She made sure he was well taken care of in the nursing home. She made sure he was fed every day even if it required 2 hours to get that job done. She made sure we, his family, always honored him and held him close. She loved him until the end and made sure we did too.