Zulu Warrior

Zulu Warrior

Today is my daughter Arlene’s 24th birthday. I drove 11 hours non-stop today to watch her compete in the USA Nationals in weightlifting tomorrow. This is a picture she let me take of her back about a month ago. My tiny blond-haired blue-eyed daughter who just loved animals has risen to the hugest challenges in life with such mind-bending strength of spirit, that her body is now beginning to reflect it. At age 11 she was diagnosed with diabetes and became insulin dependent. Back off everybody, the tiny girl said, I can handle this. I will give myself the shots, not you. I’ll figure out the carbs/insulin ratios, I won’t be defined by this for one minute, I’ve got it. I’ll take care of it. Age somewhere-in-there she figured out she is gay, held the life-altering secret for as long as she needed to, then bravely came out in an enormous high school that didn’t have, that I know of, any other openly gay students. Arlene has tried to help me to “come out” in much less significant areas, like declaring to religious friends or academic colleagues that I use the tarot. I have been much slower and less brave, and when I meet challenges I marvel ever more at her dauntless spirit. Our once strong and happy family fell apart during her early teens. She faced it, cared for everyone else and took care of herself when shattered parents were too toddling to be very useful. On her 21st birthday I gave her a little black toy poodle puppy, one of the biggest spirits in the tiniest body, and she named him Zulu. They were deliriously in love with each other – as full hearted a love as ever a heart can hold. He was hit by a car a year ago and killed. To mark this scar on her heart, she designed a tatoo of symbols of Zulu warriors and with care tracked down the best artist she could locate to do the work. It happened to be Zulu Tatoos in Los Angeles. Since that time she has built the body you see in this picture and has started seriously kicking ass in weightlifiting competitions. Her very first competition she won a silver medal and it has gone on from there, she already has a line up of medals. Arlene’s heart is as big as the sea. She knows how to love. I’m her mother I know, but jeez, isn’t this inspiring?

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5 Responses to “Zulu Warrior”

  1. Darita-Rose Alden Says:

    She’s amazing! So much courage! Does she know to say away from the obesigens? Not because of weight, but because they mess w the endocrine system in general, including the pancreas, I would think. I was remembering a time when she was really little and you were talking about all the colors of gold in her hair. It was a beautiful image. My brother Phillip is gay … and he feels like one of my children to me. I was 15 when he was born, and I did a lot of raising him with a great deal of love. I still adore him. So I joined PFLAG. He’s helping organize the San Francisco pride parade that will be at the end of this month. Wish I could be there! I was thinking about the treatment of GLBTQs, and I could hear God saying to the hateful ones, “Why did you not love my dear GLBTQ children as you love the others? How dare you not love these, the sons and daughters in whom I am well pleased?”

  2. Diedra Says:

    I love this entry.

  3. Sibusiso Says:

    I saw this picture on the web and I would recognise that shield anywhere. In my culture children are given names with meaning
    – Nompumelelo means ‘overcomer’ in Zulu. you’ve earned it
    – the title ‘Warrior’ is earned by fighting for your life.

    Nompumelelo ‘the Zulu Warrior’

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      Thank you so much for sending your remarks, I just love hearing them. My daughter is truly the “overcomer” and fights for her life every day with humor and grace. I love that you see the images here for what they are, and that you acknowledge and appreciate them. You are gracious to respond.

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