By Elle Jaye
(Editor’s Note: The following is the latest installment of a new monthly feature, focusing on local women who have overcome some daunting obstacles in their lives. This feature will spotlight them and demonstrate their strength and ability to persevere when life is at its most challenging. If you know of someone we should profile, you can email us at email@example.com and we will get the information to our writer, Elle Jaye).
Courage – N. – Kur-ij; the quality of mind and spirit that enables one to face difficulty without fear
Yes, once again, I start with the definition of courage, according to Webster’s dictionary, to continue to remind myself of the official definition of the word. However, there are multitudes of synonyms for the word courage and among them are guts, moxie, fortitude, determination … heart.
The last group of adjectives, I believe, best describes Kay Windsor … especially, heart.
I recently sat down with Kay and as we spoke I began to realize that mere words could not contain, explain or define Kay Windsor.
One almost has to experience her to feel her energy. I immediately felt this energy as she walked towards me with her big smile and as she gave me a hug she asked …” How are you doing, Honey?” It became very obvious to me at that moment that this is who Kay is … a woman with presence, strength and a true passion for people.
It is this, as you will see, that has shaped Kay’s path, this love of people and the desire, and need, to help those around her not only feel better but live better.
Kay was born in Philadelphia and was one of six children. It was later in Harford County where she met her future husband, Ron. When they married Ron’s young twin sons, Brad and Todd, became a focus for her. Kay, being a twin herself, could relate to the young boys and they allowed her to become a true mother to them. In August of 1980, the young family moved to Berlin where Ron was a teacher at Snow Hill High School and where Kay began her, still ongoing, 30-year career working with Dr. Leonard Berger at the Clarion Hotel, which at that time was the Sheraton Hotel.
Life was good for the family and Ron retired from teaching in 1984. Living a normal life with work and raising a family their worlds changed in a blink when Ron suffered a massive heart attack and stroke in 1995.
Ron was hospitalized and in a coma for three weeks. When he regained consciousness, he was moved to a rehabilitation unit where he remained, under Kay’s watchful eye, for one year. Yes, one year, that was Kay’s plan all along.
Kay is a doer. She makes things happen. After the stroke, Ron suffered from a condition known as aphasia. This is a disorder caused by damage to the brain and it affects the portion that controls language and the ability to express oneself verbally.
When Ron entered the rehabilitation center Kay made sure that those caring for him knew exactly who he was as a person. She made a list for the nurses so they could understand who Ron was as a husband, father, teacher and friend, as he could not speak for himself.
Kay exclaims, “I married this man for better and for worse”, and at that point she set forth with her mission to have him home with her in one year. She set goals for him along the way and as they would achieve one goal, they would go on to the next. Through all of this, Kay knew that her positive attitude was the key in maintaining her sanity and the necessary stability for Ron and those around her.
Laughter, humor and a strong sense of knowing what is right made those things easier to accomplish.
Kay did bring Ron home after that first year, achieving her goal. She continued to care for him at home over the next six years as well as work full time and be there for the twins. Ron passed away in September of 2001 and once again Kay’s life was different.
After 33 years of marriage, she was now a widow.
I asked Kay how she managed to cope during these difficult times in her life and she paused and said, “Life is like a cake mix….it takes all the ingredients for it to work. Different cakes have different ingredients but if we follow the recipe it will all come out fine.”
Kay is a spiritual person full of hope. She feels that what is in your mind will transcend to the rest of your body. Her need to help others and walk in their shoes is a way of life.
She once got in a wheelchair and maneuvered through the hotel as there was a group coming with someone that was handicapped. Her motive was to ensure that this individual would be comfortable and that all their needs would be met.
That is Kay Windsor — strong, determined and full of love and compassion. Always thinking of someone else and how best to help them. This is Kay’s way of living.
It is not an accident, it is a choice. A choice she made long ago and it has served her well.
“Strength is a matter of a made up mind.”