In May 2017, I decided to visit Milwaukee from the Big Island of Hawaii, where I live. When I arrived full of excitement and enthusiasm, my plans changed. I spent six months caring for Ms. Lois. In previous years she had some health issues that bound her to a wheelchair. Although she had some challenges from not using her right hand or walking, she was determined to care for herself. I’m not sure if not asking for help was pride or purposeful to move through her process.
Ms. Lois was married, had a son then separated from her spouse. As a single parent, she worked two jobs to make sure her child attended college. She was employed at Koss Electronics for many years, also at the Milwaukee Public School Board, and as a custodian at Columbia Hospital. She was on her feet 16 hours a day. Then she took public transportation since she never learned to drive. Things that I felt were important, like driving, were of little significance for her. Yet, she successfully managed her life.
It was a proud moment in her life when her son graduated from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. At that time, I did not value the importance of her journey. She was always there for me through important milestones of my life. Examples — she and her family prepared all the food for my wedding after driving back from Jackson, Tennessee, following her mom’s passing, the births of my first and second child. Through my divorce, relocating out of the state, breast cancer twice, heartbreaks, my Dad’s passing in October 2012, early retirement in 2015, and relocation to Hawaii in 2016. She was always there for me.
And much more, Ms. Lois had a significant impact on the woman I am today. Her spirit is always with me. I established The Lois Hodges Scholarship Fund to assist single women and men with their college-bound students. It’s my way of keeping her memory alive. She will forever be in my heart!