By Christopher Howard
JACKSON, Mo. -- Robin White has made peace with her body.
It is a body that wages war on itself. A body that intermittently becomes a prison, numb, losing its ability to walk, to dress itself, to hold White's daughters; the protective sheath around her nerves dissolving because of multiple sclerosis.
For being able to carry on in the face of the chronic illness, to continue mothering her daughters to the best her body will allow, White was honored last month as Mother of the Year by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Gateway Chapter. She was nominated for the award by her husband, Roy White, and her daughters, Amy, 13, and Amber, 17.
"Teen-agers are supposed to hate you," said White, 34, of Jackson. "But considering my children have nominated me, it's probably the greatest gift they could have given me."
White said she is happy despite suffering from the illness, which intermittently leaves her partially paralyzed -- resulting in the use of a wheelchair or cane -- or almost completely immobile. The last serious exacerbation of the disease occurred in October, leaving her frozen physically and spinning with vertigo and with partial memory loss.
But having unpredictable health makes her value every day, she said.
"I don't see life as just getting through this day. I see it as getting the most out of the day," said White. "I don't take day-to-day life for granted anymore."
The unpredictable multiple sclerosis forced White to close down a successful day care business, she said. Now she spends her time mothering, enjoying the days of better health with her family.
"My kids never know if they're going to come home to a mom that's walking or a mom that's in a wheelchair," she said. "But if tomorrow I can never walk again, I'll deal with it."
Her daughters say they are in awe of their mother.
"We thought it would be a good thing to nominate her because she had a good chance of winning," said Amy. "She's awesome. When I'm down she comforts me, she talks to me. She asks me what's wrong."
White was diagnosed with the illness about four years ago.
She received her award at a Gateway Chapter ceremony in St. Louis.
White was the chairperson of the Multiple Sclerosis Society's recent Southeast Missouri MS Walk 2000. Sponsored by area individuals, news media organizations, hospitals and other businesses, White recruited more than 200 walkers and raised over $45,000 -- almost tripling her goal of $16,000.
The Gateway Chapter
of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society provides support to more than
4,700 people living with MS in 90 counties in eastern Missouri and Southern
335-6611, extension 226
© 2000, The
Southeast Missourian. This story was posted on the site Tuesday, December