Saturday, May 11th, 2013
Kurt Sipolski, author of the memoir Too Early for Flowers: The Story of a Polio Mother, shares his thoughts about his mom who took such good care of him when he had polio as a child. As she grew old, he did his best to return the favor.
“The first memory of her was when I was 5. My mother Iris was trying to put my steel leg brace on, tying the orthopedic shoe, the leather calf strap, the knee pad, the thigh strap and buckling the steel belt around my waist. The room was hot and the heavy belt bit into my hips as she struggled to pull up my jeans over the shoe and the brace.
“Why me, Mom? Why did I have to get polio?”
She stopped and took my hand. She was then about 30, beautiful with wavy chestnut hair to her shoulders, and hazel eyes.
“But Kurt, Jesus only chooses the bravest boys. God picked you above all the boys in town.”
“Am I brave?” I asked.
“Of course you are. And God will always watch out for you.”
Years passed, and she was there through my therapy and operations, stoic and accepting. And she was there with her arms crossed in front of her chest, all 5 feet of her, when she made me crawl into the raspberry bushes where I’d thrown my brace in frustration one day.
“Don’t you want to get well?” she screamed.
Her tough love worked.
Years later, I was in Australia working for Rupert Murdoch when the call came that Mom needed me. There had been a car crash, recovery, confusion, a fall, a broken hip and more confusion.
I returned to help her walk again, just as she had helped me. Her hip ached, her unused legs ached. Her mind was not sharp now.
We had to tackle the stairs. “No, it’ll hurt,” she said. I guided her forward. “Don’t you want to get well?” I asked.
I stood at the top and watched her pull herself up by the railings. She pulled and rested again and again. Tears filled her eyes. Eventually she made it to the top, exhausted. She started to cry.
“Why me, Kurt? Why did this have to happen to me?”
I took her hands in mine. “Mom, there’s no answer. Bad things happen, and it’s not anyone’s fault.” Could she have thought that all these years? We sat a the top of the stairs for a long time, saying nothing, thinking.
She died 50 years to the day I was diagnosed with polio.”
Too Early for Flowers: The Story of a Polio Mother has recently been optioned for film.Add a Comment