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René Montgomery


rené montgomery readingThe Gift of a Fighting Spirit

Giants pave the way,
Save the day,
Conquer the world,
Then ride away.
I wonder who my giants have been.
I stop, I think, I realize
I had this grandmother
I saw as frail
When cancer made her life derail
I watched her fight and kick
To no avail…to no avail
Against loss of appetite,
And self.

ruth hope crothers johnsonWas she frail? Was she weak?
When for the answer she did seek?
Did I know what she was?
I knew her not—
Not as she was…
But as I thought she was.
And I forgot the rest…
Or I never knew it right in the first place.

I see her now,
In this picture,
And in my mind…
I know that cancer,
Loss of clarity
Took away who she was,
Who she could have been,
Who she wanted to be…
And left the weakness I did see—

If I had opened my eyes
a little wider
I might have asked,
I might have learned,

I might have wondered
About her life
And mine,
And I would have seen her
Standing like a giant.

If I had opened my mind,
a little more,
to the reality,
the possibility,
the necessity,
Of her life,
The lives of those she led to,
Including me,
I would have seen
A single mother of eight,
Standing up to an alcoholic husband
When divorce was taboo.
She divorced,
Put herself through teacher’s college,
Brought up her children, all eight of them,
To move on to successful marriages,
Successful careers,
Successful families.

And I saw her as frail?
With grandchildren in the dozens,
My understanding of her cannot prevail—

I let my idea of her go,
I let it sail,
Knowing that for me,
She paved the way,
Saved the day,
Conquered the world,
And then rode away.

She left me here to carry on
With strength to fight my fight
With all my might,
Courage to walk my path,
Wherever it leads,
Hope to grow my life,
Whatever it needs.