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Honoring an amazing woman

It takes perhaps everything a 24 year old girl and single mother has, to decide one day that once and for all, she will no longer shame the woman who gave her life. This woman instead deserves to be honored and remembered through the only voice she has left. Mine.


I hold some of the fondest memories a daughter could ever have of her mother. I was blessed with a mother who had a heart of gold, but like many of the worlds finest, their blessings and sincere decency could only survive the Earth for a short time. There is such a thing as being too good amongst a world containing far too much evil. I hereby devote my life to her cause which now lives through me, the cause being kindness, love, acceptance and generosity at all costs.


I remember her smile that could melt a room and the light in her eyes that shined brighter than the evident pain behind them. I can recall her constant struggle to retain goodness and her desire to help others no matter what she received in return. As I practice similar actions I've become aware that you can help ten people, nine of which are not capable of appreciating your gesture but one who will remember and appreciate your kind action for all of their time. That one person touched by your kindness could very well re give your gift to another person in that persons time of need therefore recycling your kindness throughout the world. My mother and I agree this is worth it.


As kids, my older brother and I made a failed attempt at a Lemonade stand. Mind you this was our first business venture. With my current knowledge I realize that much like a storefront the success of your lemonade stand depends primarily on LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. So yes we could have picked a busier block. Saddened that we were yet to have our first customer my mother sneaks out of the back of the apartment buildings dressed in unrecognizable attire. A floral sundress a straw hat and a beautiful face hidden behind other materials. The most beautiful site my eyes could behold made her way up the block and then a foreign woman with a foreign accent bought the very first cup of lemonade we sold. It wasn't until after the transaction I realized it was her. We couldn't have sold our first cup of lemonade to a better lady.

When I look back at that now I wonder how a woman carrying such a painful secret from her children could be so magnificent. The painful secret that she has AIDS and will have to prematurely leave these children unprotected in this world containing far too much evil.


Years after the lemonade stand and before I learned of my mother's condition she gave birth to my new, younger brother Terry. Terry was born with full blown AIDS. As he struggled to stay alive at age two months and my mothers condition worsened she shared her painful secret with us. I will never forget that day as my life as I knew it was over. My younger brother harnessed whatever miracle it was that lived in my mother when he repeatedly recovered from each potential loss of body part and loss of life he was most certainly facing. Certain as the doctors and nurses were that is these being the same doctors and nurses who named him the miracle baby when they sent him home.


At that time AIDS was often viewed as dirty with its victims pushed aside with a societal outlook that they brought the disease onto themselves. My mother knowingly facing the final months of her life struggled with lawsuits as my younger brother was denied daycare not only in private daycares but in a daycare provided by a church. She struggled with our societies and governments practices regarding the treatment of AIDS victims and especially AIDS babies. At that time when an infant was born they were tested for HIV for statistical reasons and if the baby tested positive they did not necessarily make the mother aware. This therefore prevented timely and often life saving treatment to infected infants.


It's now been ten years since my mother died of AIDS. And during this ten years I've done very little to remember and honor my mother. I wish I could say we now live in a world where AIDS victims are accepted and treated decently by all but I fear I cannot. These fears have silenced me and caused me to take no action, to turn my back on the epidemic and to brush off any inquires from the people I know who ask about my mother, who and where she is. Well I've done a horrible job of living out the legacy of someone who was kind, loving, accepting and generous. For me this also means facing a past that contained hardship, loss and pain.


So in a recent effort to learn more about my mother and to honor her I stumbled across an article written ten years ago that quotes George Pataki, former governer of New York

"We are taking two important steps forward today to help infants and people living with HIV or AIDS," Governor Pataki said.

"The Baby AIDS law brings common sense into the testing of infants for HIV," the Governor said. "This legislation will ensure that parents and physicians get the potentially lifesaving information they have been denied for far too long. Every mother should know whether her child has been exposed to HIV so that she and her doctor can take steps to protect the child's health. Now they will.

"This legislation is a tribute to the tireless work of many people, most no tably Michelle Faust, who, despite having HIV, came to Albany again and again with her son Terry to lobby for this bill and speak out for children. Michelle died last week, but not before making a difference that will save the lives of hundreds of infants.


I remember the satisfaction, excitement, utter joy and happiness on my mothers face when she learned of this bill passing shortly before she died. At the time I didn't quite understand what she was fighting for and why as I was adjusting to the upcoming loss of my mother. Today I understand. My mother was simply being her kind, loving, accepting and generous self.


My younger brother Terry is 13 years old now. Through continued advancement in the treatments of AIDS patients he's been able to enjoy an extended life span and appreciates many of the same things most 13 year old boys do.

So in closing, I ask you to please toast your next glass of lemonade to my mothers honor. I ask you to spread your kind gestures, love, acceptance and generosity throughout the world.


Sent via Email November 22, 2006 from New York, America.

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