Every day in the U.S, over 360,000 babies are born. Each one has the opportunity to benefit mankind. The mother of each one of those 360,000 babies had to fight for 9 months for the wellbeing and health of their own. I just so happened to know one of those mothers. She went by the name of Alma June Cooper, or in my case, Grandma. She brought 7 of those babies into the world and the day she died, 4 of those babies, now grown adults, were in the room. However, 1 of them was not birthed by her. That 4th baby was me.
Alma June Cooper dropped out of high school the November of her junior year. She was born into poverty as her parents picked cotton in the fields in Alexander, Louisiana. There was only 1 black nurse in Alexander. Miss. Cooper wanted to become the 2nd however her busy habits and impoverished lifestyle left her down in the dumps. As she found the importance of reforming her life, she began to find herself in her efforts to becoming a nurse; acknowledging the importance of never feeling sorry for yourself. Soon enough, Alma June received her GED and took on the challenge of becoming a nurse while having kids. She went to school in the day, worked the night shift as a Nurse aid and studied at night when she got home. Receiving 3-4 hours of sleep a night, Alma fought her way into the medical system. When her life settled down, Alma had her 7th child who is my father. My grandmother’s life was always a fight. She fought her way out of her roach infested childhood home, she fought her way into medical school, she fought her way into society as a black woman in the 70s and she fought for her life. 15 years ago when Alma was 59, she was diagnosed with Leukemia. However, I never knew about her diagnosis until a month before she died. The day my grandmother’s health condition was brought to my attention, I felt my whole world came crashing down. I felt as though my bedroom walls were caving in on me and my childhood was being ripped from right under my feet. I prayed and searched for the answer to why this could possibly be happening to the woman I so dearly loved however, I soon came to the realization that I had been surrounded by the answer my entire life. My grandmother taught through her actions and one of the greatest things I learned from her was to continue fighting no matter what else is going on. With this in the forefront of my mind, I continued to fight however, I began to fight alongside my grandmother. I began to visit her at the hospital every other night while juggling moving to a new school and battling hate and criticism from peers there. One night at the hospital, I was faced with the news that my grandmother was offered hospice earlier in the day. I felt destroyed however I knew she would not accept the doctor’s recommendation because she was a fighter. Alma June proudly declined the hospice for she knew that she had to continue setting the example of how to fight.
My grandmother had 7 children and 5 of those children had their own kids. I was the closest to my grandmother out of all her grandkids. As I sat on my grandmother’s death bed and held her hand as she took her final breaths, I knew that I was prepared to take on any challenge that life threw at me because not only did I view her fighting spirit that guided her to success, but I believe that her fight and overall will to succeed is installed in me. As previously mentioned, I referred to myself as my grandmother’s 4th baby. This is because of how honored it felt to be a student of her trade as I listened to her stories that modeled strength through adversity and, overall taught me how to believe in the fight.
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