I met this woman a couple days ago in a debate group. She was defending the pro-choice position and she happened to agree with some of my arguments and statements. So I thought I would request to be her friend on facebook. Today, she posted what is below, I read it and was genuinely moved. I think this story, as raw as it is, paints a great picture of a life that even through hardship has come out strong. She has a desire to fight, a desire to love, and she has endured loss as well as tragedy. This story is about her life and what she has overcome. She was responding to a 30 year old who happened to call her old and told her that she was unbelievable. This woman told her that she was old enough to be her grandmother and that there was no way she could get her facts straight because of this.
When I read the post I was in awe that someone would use age as a reason to dismiss what another individual had to say. So I asked her if she would share her voice with us.
Below is the short story of Karen Zimmerman, a warrior for justice, a mother, a lover, and someone I am glad to have found. Her story has touched me and I hope that it touches you as well. This is unedited and raw; please understand the poetry of her words. Thank you Karen for letting me share this with my audience.
-Forward Written By: Christopher Tanner
I changed my profile picture because yes, I am getting old. I am 56 years old. It took a lot of work and pain to make it here. I was born to an Ex-con, 20 years in Attica State Prison for his second rape offense and a woman who really never cared for anyone but herself. My father tried to make my mother abort me with all manner of crazy shit, being beaten was one. She married him. She had a first born her family was trying to take from her because…..she really didn’t care.
I was hospitalized at the age of 6 months, almost dead with tonsillitis. I got strep at 10. My father didn’t believe in modern medicine, so I didn’t see a doctor until after I appeared to recover. Within a few days, I was back in the back bedroom, delirious, dying of Rheumatic Fever. The murmur in my heart disappeared after about 25 years. The human body is amazing. My father began to beat me at the age of 12 and a half. I ran away until I was 15 repeatedly, until ironically, I moved in with my mother and stepfather.
Skip to 1987, after moving to Colorado from NY, I am married and in love with my husband Rick. Drunk hits us at 55 mph while sitting at a stop sign. We are physically fucked up for life. We show no sign except for Ricks occasional limp that with age, is now ongoing and constant. 6 months later I give birth to a healthy baby daughter and our best friend tries to kill himself. He succeeded just months after I almost died (they told Rick to bring the family for good byes) losing my leg to MRSA in 2004. November 3rd, 2011, my first-born grandson, dies suddenly. He was my world.
This is my face. This is my body. The lines are deepening. Parts are drooping. The pain and sorrow lines are almost now as deep as the smile lines. My flesh is thinning, as is my hair. It’s not real grey yet, just sprinkling so far. I have far more health issues and a couple more near death experiences than I will bore you with here, but I hear this a lot at my doctor’s offices. “You are remarkably healthy for all that is wrong with you.”
I am not writing this for oh’s, aw’s or sympathy. I really, really, love my life. I love my wrinkles. I love that downy mustache that will forever remind me of my Italian aunts and beloved Nonna.( I have chin hairs too..lol) Losing the love that I have, even now, hurts like I have been punched in the gut. Having the love I have now keeps me going. I have learned a lot. I have so much to learn..and unlearn.
Did you hear that? I AM GETTING OLD. And I love it. I am fucking thrilled! I’ve packed a lot in the last 56 years. And fuck it all….. I’m still packing.
Written By: Karen Zimmerman