Monday, May 11, 2009


A sad but beautiful story from the L.A. Times about a woman who gave her life rather than lose the child she was carrying:

She leaned on her husband, using his strength to hide her unsteadiness. Her steps were tentative, measured, cautious, with her gait more typical of a woman decades older than her late 20s. She could still walk, shake hands and almost smile, at least with one side of her mouth; she couldn't let the tumor take those gifts away -- not yet. She had to stay healthy another few weeks, until her baby was born.

I can understand and, truly, appreciate this woman's great sacrifice.

Let me tell you a story:

In the early winter of the year 1899 a woman named Elizabeth Martin Dueweke, 45 years old and the mother of 13 children, found herself pregnant again. Her doctor had warned her that she was too old to survive another childbirth and strongly advised her to abort (which was legal then under the circumstances).

A faithful Catholic, she declined. "Live or die," she said, "It is God's will."

She gave birth in May 1900 to a little girl she named Loretta.

And she promptly died.

Loretta, her fourteenth child, survived. She herself had ten children, 78 grandchildren, over 150 great-grandchildren, and an unknown number of great-great grandchildren; of these, at least 12 have PhD's, five J.D's, and two are M.D.s.

Elizabeth Martin Dueweke gave her life a century ago and now hundreds of people, through her youngest daughter, call her "grandmother".

Including yours truly.

She also may have over a thousand descendants by now. In a few generations, a whole nation.*

Sacrifice is often in vain. But not always.

(*Take that, ZPGers!)

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Keep it clean for gene.