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Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung: A Memoir

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  • Posted November 28, 2008

    Martha Mason is one of the most remarkable people you'll ever meet. She knows how to "live above" challenges of life that would debilitate most people.

    She has enormous intellect, a warm spirit and wit that draws people to her, and a robust life force that allows her to greet each new day with anticipation. This despite being confined to an iron lung since age 11, in 1948. For the first 45 years of that confinement, her mother was Martha's gentle and upbeat surrogate for movement, even transcribing Martha's words for her college homework and essays. In 1993, Alzheimer's stole her mother's abilities and gentle personality. Martha now at age 55 had an even bigger challenge. "I had always been taken care of like an orchid in a greenhouse." She had to learn everything about how to run a household and to care for her mother. Friends induced her to try a voice-activated computer. A State agency helped with the financing. She could now control the telephone, research any topic, and keep in touch with her wide array of friends. She no longer required intermediaries for every transaction. From her small room and sunny yellow iron lung, she has access to the world. Her small community of Lattimore, North Carolina provides a safe haven, but her personality makes her place in this community a blessing rather than an obligation. We all have things to learn from Martha Mason.

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