Melissa Ann Archer hated being called Missy. She’s Melissa.
“Except for my sisters,” she added. “They’re allowed.”
Names are important. They tell the world who we are.
Strong women have names. They could be any different title. I’m sure a few came to your mind just now. However, the most unoriginal title might be the strongest one of all:
It sounds weird not to have the entire world call Melissa “Mom.” She has been a mother to so many people.
It’s easy to say that about your own mother, but I hope to convince you that despite my bias, she was a powerhouse of a human being. Her strength radiated from her, inspiring me and many others to keep going.
Melissa Archer may be my mom, but the world needs to know she was a strong woman.
In 1979, Melissa was an orthopedic nurse at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. She worked the night shift, and on September 22, her life changed forever.
Automatic doors were a brand new technology, and the hospital had just installed mats that, when stepped on, opened the large, steel doors at the front of the hospital. We’ve all seen them, though nowadays, an overhead sensor usually opens the door.
Unfortunately, there were no delay timers on the mat to keep the door open, and in the middle of the mat, there was a dead spot with no sensor. They covered that dead spot up by putting a mat over it.
My mom stepped on that spot, and without delay, two thousand pounds of steel closed on her back and shattered it, rupturing discs and breaking her back in six places. It threw her to the ground, and she found she could not get up. Her legs didn’t follow her command to move.
At the young age of twenty-four, her career was over, and the trauma was just beginning. I was only four months old, waiting for my Mama to nurse and comfort me. There were no MRI machines back then, and exploratory surgery was the only option; they sliced her open with an incision over two feet long, down her back and around her side.
Spinal surgery was in its infancy, and doing major back surgery was considered quite a big deal. Most of…