Melissa Ballard

By Melissa Ballard

I have had many sleepless nights, and way too many long days after those nights. The amounts of miles and toll charges for my vehicle for the numerous trips to therapy and for stays in the hospital are too many to count; but we accept that all as parents and do what we can for our children. I was blessed to have parents that did the same for me, even when I was not the best or greatest kid they could have had. They did it because I was their kid and they loved me. This gave me a foundation about how family takes care of one another especially in the hard times. Bailing out is not an option, unless it is on a sinking boat full of water.

My mom is now nearing 70 years old and for years she has jokingly called me “mother” in regards to her health care and keeping up with her numerous doctors. I am not sure when that switch came for me, but I like to feel like I am doing something for the woman (and my dad, too) that raised me. I do not feel obligated to take care of her, but I do so out of love. We do things we can to take care of the people we love and care for in our lives. We recently learned that my mom is facing a very aggressive cancer that is already advanced into multiple spots within her body. This is one of the hardest things I have had to ever hear and we have been through so many things with both of our health issues and lives over the years. I will stand by this woman through illness, treatment, and any decisions she makes on this path we now have to travel.


I have always been the strong one of the family and bulldozed through the troubled spots. This time will be no different; I just may be a bit more of an emotional baby because this is MY momma. Much like in finding out we had a transgender child 2 years ago and now an ailing parent, the foundation we have built on life’s journey so far will carry us through, no matter what. Just like we chose to not turn our backs on this young child first telling us they were gay, and then realizing they were transgender, we will stay strong as a family through this illness.

If there is anything I wish to leave as a legacy of my own life, it would have to be that even if we make a difference in one person’s life then we have done something good. Family is not always blood as we have learned over the years but family (or “framily”) will be there when needed. I treasure both blood family and that “chosen” family as well.

Find your tribe, love them hard!


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