The Way of the Warrior I am forty-six years old as I write this; she is sixty-five years old. I am six feet three and one half inches tall, she is just over four feet. My eleven- year-old daughter is taller. I weigh about two hundred and fifty pounds, more if I have a few Twinkies or donuts; she is less than half my weight. What she considers painfully heavy I lift with one finger, usually just to poke fun at her. She wears a sweater in July and is cold most of the time. I work in temperature extremes, from minus fifteen degrees to one hundred and fifty degrees and they don't phase me. I am surrounded in my job by strong chemicals and dangerous materials, she gets sick at the smell of floor wax. I once led a bad life; she once led a bad life, although our lives were diametrically different. I was the victor, and she was the victim, she was pushed around and abused, I pushed and abused the kind of people that hurt her. I know fighting styles that she has never heard of, I know how to use anything around me as a weapon. So does she, in a different way. Physically, nothing keeps me down; I am as tough as nails. Everything seems to attack her. She has illnesses that I've never heard of. She wakes up in the morning in tears because her body is tormented with pain in one area or another. She has arthritis, lupus, and a score of other problems, so many that when she goes to the hospital it takes three pages to list them all. It takes a few more pages to list her allergies and reactions to medicines.  She has had so many operations I am told that her abdomen looks like a road map of scars and stitches. When she first came into my life, I thought, in my arrogance, that God put me in her life to take care of her. I had it backwards. Her daughter, who is also my wife, pointed this out to me during one of my periods of feeling sorry for myself. She has a talent for saying things I least want to hear when I least want to hear them but need most to hear them. Very annoying but very deeply needed. My tiny fragile little mother in law is the warrior; she is the protector, she is the one the bad guys fear. When she goes into action, the forces of darkness growl and hiss with rage and cringe in fear. This sounds very dramatic, so dramatic that Hollywood uses phrases like it now and then to describe their imaginary heroes. In this case though, in this tiny little gray haired woman, a real life hero, it is literally true. The bad guys, the "forces of darkness" are terrified of her and what she can do. They hate her because they can't stop her. Every time they hit her, she gets up and keeps going with more determination than before. She carries with her into battle, a shield, a sword, a water flask, and a torch that cannot be put out. Her shield is her faith, nothing can pierce it or dent it. It is, like most shields, very heavy, hard sometimes to even hold in her tiny arms, but she manages, and attacks on her faith are doomed from the start because of it. The sword that she carries is the bible, not very intimidating to us, but terrifying to the devil and his buddies. The water in the flask isn't for her to drink, it is for those that she finds fallen and embattled along the way. Since this war is in the spiritual world, the water takes different forms. It can be a tray of cookies to the sick, a jar of jam, a blanket to someone in need, whatever is needed at the time. I call her Fred Sanford because of her "collection" of items that she will most likely never need. Whatever is needed, chances are she has stashed somewhere, waiting to be used. Oh, yes, her torch, its fire can be seen in her eyes, although I have to bend over to look in them. She carries with her the fire of love, she has a gift for loving and accepting everyone and not judging or finding faults. I didn't understand this fire at first, but I'm learning. I am beginning to understand what a mighty warrior she is, and why the devil attacks her so. He hates her; he hates her more than I can put into words, yet he fears her. That's why she has arthritis that makes it hard for her to get around. That's why her stomach hurts all the time and her eyes don't work so well. That's why she is cold in the summer time. That's why her blood pressure is low, causing her to be dizzy. That's why she hurts so badly in the morning that she doesn't even feel like getting out of bed. But she WILL get out of bed, she will get up because she has a mission, she has a calling. There are days when she is ready to quit, days when she is sure she can't go much farther. But she WILL go farther, she will because she is needed, she has a purpose. She will go and visit the sick, because she understands them. She will go and help the homeless, because she has been there. She will help those who need help because they need it, and because she takes the war very seriously. Ask yourself which soldier poses the threat, the one who sleeps, plays, runs when the going gets rough, leaves his post, has no weapons? Or the soldier who has weapons ready, in hand, eyes watching for attacks? The soldier who sits under a tree and sleeps? Or the soldier who marches straight into the enemy camp with blades flashing? Her body is tiny and frail, her soul is giant and mighty. Her deeds are simple, but effective. She is cold during the hottest months of the year, yet she burns inside with a fire most people will never know. She knows the rewards of victory, and the price of failure. The price of failure is too great, she will press on, she will survive, she will complete her mission.
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