Peace in Prayer
Laura Charles' favorite words to live by lie in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes in the Bible: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." But one thing Laura Charles does not have time for is a pity-party. "I have learned that I don't have time for woulda, shoulda, coulda," claimed Laura.
In the finale of her 30-year career in Michigan, Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer. Always a prayerful person, she prayed constantly for healing and ultimately made a deal with the Lord. "I told Him if you let me get through this, I'll do something really good for someone. You know, they say to be careful what you pray for." A few days later her telephone rang. It was her family in Bluffton desperately needing her help. This was her call to do something good. She was asked to adopt and care for her two grandsons because her daughter no longer could. She opened her home and her heart to the boys who were ages ten and two at the time.
Laura was enjoying remission of the cancer, when early retirement from the State of Michigan became an option, Laura took it, packed everyone up and moved to Bluffton. Soon after arriving, Laura welcomed her granddaughter into the family home as well. "I needed my granddaughter. I had a house full of men!"
Now, on her second round, Laura has a young family again, and as a grandparent, is in the middle of everything that comes with raising children. "I do have a husband -poor thing - he's in the middle of all this chaos," Laura said laughing. Nonetheless, they truly are enjoying their live-in grandchildren. "They are my hearts; I love them. It's easier this time because I really don't sweat the small stuff. Things just don't get to me as much as they did with my children. With what I've been through, if it happens, it just happens."
Laura is a "with-it" grandma, too! She says they all love to play games and Scrabble is their favorite, but not the old get-out-the-board and turn-all-the-tiles-over kind of Scrabble. "Did you know you can play Scrabble on X-box and compete with someone living in another house?" Laura asked. "We play with my other daughter who lives down the street all the time. It's teaching my youngest verbal and writing skills. My granddaughter loves it too!"
It's not all fun and games, though. Laura has been diagnosed with breast cancer again and is currently undergoing treatment. "I prayed to God for someone to take care of me. I think that's why I got Dr. Herrmann," she smiled. "I've really fallen in the lap of good people."
"Laura Charles is a remarkable woman. Never one to put herself first, she felt the need to do everything she could to reduce her risk of another breast cancer. She needed to be there for her grandchildren," said Dr. Virginia Herrmann, Professor of Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina and Medical Director of the Breast Health Center at Hilton Head Hospital.
Initially scared that the cancer had metastasized just like her mother's did, Laura didn't let those feelings linger for long. "I turned the fear into a positive thing. I prayed. I worked it out. I had to deal with this. You can't be consumed with it or you don't heal well," Laura explained.
Laura chose a mastectomy with reconstruction of both breasts. "It was no surprise to any of us that just days after her surgery, she was back at the bus stop waiting with her youngest grandchild to see him off to school," said Dr. Herrmann. "Those of us who cared for Laura have learned much from her." But what has Laura learned throughout this unplanned journey? "I have today, and I love today no matter the circumstances. It's a part of living- the good and the bad. One day I took a nap after Chemo and I dreamed I was walking on a pure white beach in a white dress. It was like I was with God. I was so at peace. I've never been that peaceful. He said, 'Walk on this path and do as I say, it's going to be all right'. I sleep well . I am at peace."
Lived in Bluffton: Five-years
Married to: Love Charles for 40 years. "I had to see his I.D. before I believed his name was Love."
Grandchildren: Although only three live with her, she has seven in all.
Grandchildren describer her as: "Best thing in the world", funny, but they know a rule is a rule.
Hidden talent: "I would be an excellent interior decorator, but I have nowhere to interior decorate."
Leans on: Hubby Love and her daughter Latasha, describing them both as her "rocks".
Favorite thing she's ever done: Got married in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt on the spur of the moment while on vacation at her in-laws in Alabama.