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Donor Family Story: Anita Reeder Hardister

Anita Reeder Hardister was a giver all of her life. It was in her DNA I suppose. At a mere eleven years old she witnessed her father give his life in an attempt to save a young woman from drowning. Our family was awarded the Carnegie Hero Medal of Honor for his fatal sacrifice. That level of giving shaped her and lent to who she would become.

My Mama always gave even if it meant she went without. She was a teacher to many children in and out of the classroom. She dedicated her entire life to giving of herself in some capacity. She never wanted accolades and at her funeral, I began to learn of many of the things she did in private to help others. She didn’t want fanfare or praise, she gave because she felt it so deeply in her soul to assist those in need in any way she could manage to help them. She passed on July 30, 2011, and to this day, I still am learning of the things she did to reach others and give them hope. She was adamant about organ donation and I know she would be thrilled to know her donation to your foundation assisted someone in seeing the world as she did.

I was her only child and the bond we shared was like nothing I can begin to put into words. She loved me so fiercely and she instilled in me the need to give as well. She said I was the love of her life, and then when my sons, Aaron Seth and Luke were born, she found room in her huge heart to make them the loves of her life as well.

She loved music, sewing, and reading every book she could get her hands on. Her quick wit and storytelling ability were a source of constant entertainment for every person who had the honor of knowing her. She took great pride in teaching Sunday school at our church for twenty-plus years. She didn’t brag but she was quite the writer as well. The last written work of my Mother. She was awake at two in the morning on July 20, 2011, unable to get up on her own. She called me into her room and ask me to crawl onto her big, comfy bed beside her. She told me she wanted me next to her as I read her finished product. It was much like the days of my childhood when I found safety and security, nestled next to Mama, reading to each other. The words below gave me chills, in my heart, I truly believe she knew her last days were upon her. I wept as I saw her handwriting had become shaky, but her grammar and punctuation were still very much intact. Our eyes met as they had so many times, and she managed to whisper, you will need this baby.I escaped to her room minutes after she was gone, and there at her beside was her well-kept notebook, pencil in the binding, and this poem there for me to see and read on my own this time. Thank you, Mama, for leaving me with such a beautiful way to see death and the legacy you left for Seth, Luke, and myself.

Inspiration. Collaboration. Innovation.