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Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung
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July 2016: Biography Memoir > Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung by Martha Mason - 3 stars

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Ellen | 2282 comments In September of 1948, 13-year-old Gaston Mason died from polio after a very short illness. Within a week, his 11-year-old sister Martha would be diagnosed with the same disease and would spend the next sixty-one years in an iron lung. Martha's parents were determined that they would not lose their remaining child and the spent the rest of their lives caring for their daughter. After a year in the hospital, Martha was able to return home to the family's small house in Lattimore, NC. Her "big yellow tube" did not keep Martha from friendships, small parties, and even high school and college. With some major adjustments to their home life, the Masons helped Martha to achieve all of her goals, including graduation from Wake Forest University summa cum laude and with a Phi Beta Kappa honor society key. Martha had always dreamed of being a writer and she was able to pursue that career doing featured interviews over the telephone. As technology advanced through Martha's lifetime, she was able to 'write' her own stories with the aid of a speech recognition computer which, thankfully, gave her mother a much needed break from writing for Martha ever since she was in elementary school. This devoted family helped Martha to do everything she wanted, and even after the deaths of her parents, Martha was fortunate to have care givers that continued the same level of attentiveness.

Martha is definitely an inspirational woman who overcame astouding physical disabilities to live a full and happy life. Her spirit was never broken and she seemed to take every day as a blessing. I hate to sound cynical, but I can't fathom how anyone could always, always, be so cheery. For her sake, I hope everything was exactly as she said it was in her memoir. Either way, she was an amazing woman.


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Wow, this one sounds incredible. I just don't know how people like this stay optimistic. It's so impressive.

A 17 year old in our community sustained a spinal injury, and he is now quadriplegic. My son knew him (but not well) as did many boys in the area - - and they have really rallied around him. He is now back in school and certainly very impressive in his efforts to recover (which have been very difficult). It's just so hard, and yet he and his family stay upbeat and moving forward. This child was an artist and loved cooking - - both things that really rely on your hands - - just devastating.

I hope I would have the strength. I'm not sure if I actually would.


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