Reminder of What is Truly Important

by DavalosMcCormack on January 29, 2009

Every once in a while something comes along that reminds you just how truly fortunate you are, and how you need to appreciate everything you have and everyone in your life.

A few days ago I learned that a rather remarkable lady had passed away at far too young an age. Her name is Ava Montague. You may never have heard of her, but she touched many lives in her too short time with us. What does that  have to do with being healthy and simple? Here’s what.

I first met Ava when I was a medical producer for a local TV news station. I was doing a story on strokes and needed a stroke survivor to interview for the story. Eventually I was put in touch with Ava.

My first thought on meeting her was that she contradicted everything I expected to see. For a start she seemed much too young to have had a stroke. She was also slim and seemed to be in good health.
Ava told me she had been trying to do all the right things – watching her diet, being physically active – but despite those she had a stroke at a relatively young age.

It left her with impediments in both her speech and her walking. But it didn’t stop her talking or moving. Ava had places to go and things to say and nothing was going to stop her.

Over the years I interviewed her again several times. Even though she ran her own PR business and was extremely active in her community, she was always generous with her time.

She wanted to help spread the word, to educate others about the dangers of stroke, about the risk factors, about what people can and should do to reduce their risk. She wanted everyone to have the tools they needed to protect themselves.

In all the time I knew her, in all the interviews we did or conversations we had, she was never self-pitying. She was far too busy for that.

She created the San Francisco Black Film Festival out of nothing and turned it into a dynamic cultural event. She was a champion of dance and culture and the arts in the African American community, helping non-profits spread the word about their work. And she worked hard to raise awareness about breast cancer.

She was a sweet woman. A kind soul. And she passed too soon.

Ava is a reminder that, even when you do all the right things that sometimes bad things happen.

But she is a far more powerful reminder that even when bad things happen life goes on and can continue to take you on a wonderful journey filled with love and adventure, if you are willing to let it and work for it.
When I think of Ava I don’t think of a woman who survived a stroke. I think of a woman who lived her life with passion and determination and delight.

It’s something of a cliche but nonetheless true, that moments like this are a reminder to live while you can, to live as best as you can, and to love all those around you as much as you can.

In the end those are the only things that truly matter.

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