Community of character: Perseverance

Lee's Summit JournalApril 18, 2014 

“Failure is not falling down, but staying down.” – Mary Pickford

Webster’s defines perseverance as a quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult. When I think of the word, specific individuals come to mind.

Since reading the book “The Story of My Life” and then seeing the television drama “The Miracle Worker,” Helen Keller has been an inspiration to me. She personified this character trait throughout her life. She persevered in spite of being blind, deaf and mute from the early age of two. She suffered public prejudice regarding her disabilities for many years. In spite of her disabilities, she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe and participated in many campaigns to raise awareness; traveling to over 25 countries over five continents.

Through her many speeches and appearances, she brought inspiration and encouragement to millions of people. One of my favorite quotes from her is “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

One more individual that has lived this character trait her entire life is my mother-in-law Marcelina Solis. Marcelina was born into a very poor family. Her mother died unexpectedly and her father was an alcoholic.

By the age of 6, Marcelina is caring for her younger sister and walking her father home from bars. She is responsible for the house hold doing all the cooking and cleaning. The girls cannot bring home any homework from school and they cannot participate in any after school activities.

As a child, there is only one happy Christmas. It’s when the Salvation Army delivers food and two dolls to the sisters. Not surprisingly, at a young age both sisters run away to avoid the abuse and to get married. Both sisters marry wonderful husbands. Marcelina takes in sewing and works in nursing homes in the housekeeping department. With both having just an eighth grade education, the couple raises three children who all graduate from college. Now at the ripe age of 94, Marcelina does not look back angry or bitter; in fact she is grateful, happy and loving. The experience made her stronger. She persevered. She kept a course of action without giving up. She fell down but refused to stay down.

“Most of the things worth doing in this world were declared impossible before they were done.” – Thomas Edison


Gloria Solis is the Chief Nursing Officer at Saint Lukes East Hospital and is a Board member of Lee’s Summit Cares.

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