[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/1KkF_gLlw7I" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]On Sunday January 18th I read a letter to the editor of the Democrat and Chronicle written by an 86 year-old black woman named Rosa Wims. She wrote about how exicted she was to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama and how tears of joy were going to be streaming down her face as she watched. Can you imagine what this woman has experienced in her life? The hatred, the segregation, the less than human treatment and in her life-time one man, whose skin color is the similiar to hers, rose above to hold the highest office in the United States of America.
On inauguration day we called Rosa Wims. She spoke of her amazing life. She was a practicing registered nurse in the 1940's, a time as Tommy put it, white folk probably did not want her touching them! In her 60's she started a health clininc in the inner city that she ran for almost 20 years. I learned how she never took payment from the center, but did pay in with her own money. And she raised 6 children all who grew up to work in health care as doctors, hospital administrators and nurses. I was so immpressed by Rosa, I asked if I could take her to lunch. She accepted and on Friday January 23rd she and I broke bread at an Indian restuarant, Rosa's favorite kind of food.
Rosa has unbelievable energy. She walks with a slight limp, a result of a bought with polio in her childhood. However, nothing, not polio, not lack of money, not people - nothing slows Rosa Wims down. She was excited to show me photos of her family, spoke lovingly of friends, talked about the health center and the difference it made in the lives of less fortunate families. Rosa said she never had a problem with anyone in the almost 20 years she ran the health center in one of the roughest parts of Rochester. How can this be? Because Rosa commands respect by her very presence and respect given, gets respect, help and love from Rosa.
Rosa has a set of values she lives by and they have worked for her for over three quarters of a century. This includes saying grace before every meal. At lunch I had a mouthful of food, as Rosa bowed her head a said a prayer. I too bowed my head, more out of respect for Rosa, as I tried to quietly swallow my mouthful.
Sometimes we meet people that show us something we may be missing. As queer as it sounds, Rosa showed me that having a "loving" attitude does not mean you are a doormat, no it's being firm and accepting, it's living better. Rosa makes it look easy, but then again she's been a it a long time!