My Dedication To a Mom Who Has Touched 10,000 Lives

I am delighted to have guest blogger Steve Ferkau here today with the first of many Mother’s Day posts we’ll be publishing this week. Once on the verge of death from cystic fibrosis, Steve is now a double lung and kidney transplant survivor.

by Steve Ferkau

For nearly 60 years now, my Mom has been one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. She’s watched me keep the upper-hand on cystic fibrosis, then watched cystic fibrosis slowly gain the upper-hand on me — then she rejoiced when a beautiful person and family gave me two new lungs.

She always loved pinning people with “Donate Life” lapel pins, and she was never satisfied with just giving them a pin — she’d tell them a story. She’d describe her son struggling — and she’d tell them about a beautiful girl from Iowa who saved his life. I am that son, and if I was anywhere near her when she WAS telling this story, she’d pull me over and introduce me.

She always wanted to write that beautiful girl’s Mom a letter, but she’d cry anytime she thought about it. That Mom lost a precious and beautiful daughter, but because of her and them, my mom didn’t lose her son.

Over the years my mother has probably touched over 10,000 lives with her story. I know that the Illinois Organ Procurement Organization Gift of Hope had given her over 10,000 pins — and they’re all gone.

Mom is 87 years old now. She’s wading through dementia and doesn’t quite remember my new lungs or the struggles she helped me get through during the first half of my life. I’ve had that beautiful Iowa girl’s lungs for 19 years. Mom knows me and my siblings 95% of the time, and of course I am the self-declared favorite child.

Mom had long been known for folding copies of Robert Test’s poem “To Remember Me” and including it in cards and letters. Here’s an excerpt:

Excerpt of To Remember Me by Robert Test

At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped. When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my “deathbed.” Call it my “bed of life,” and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives…If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses, and all my prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil. Give my soul to God. If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.

I know a beautiful girl from Iowa who will live forever. And I know a couple of Moms (and Dads) from Illinois and Iowa who will live forever in my heart. Happy Mother’s day to all.


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