Epilepsy Helped Refine Florida Young Mother of the Year
By Ryan McDonald, Church News staff writer
The ability to forget and the ability to remember are two qualities that help define Rachel Crane, the 2013 Florida Young Mother of the Year and a member of the Carrollwood Ward in the Tampa Florida Stake.
“If you define a spouse or a child in terms of a mistake they made in the past, it’s really hard for them to be anything better in the future,” said her husband of 16 years, Nathan Crane. “Her ability to set those things aside and keep starting new really contributes a lot to the family, both for our relationship and her relationship with the children and their ability to relate with others.”
The Cranes’ 15-year-old daughter, Sarah, is grateful for her mother’s ability to help her learn from mistakes.
“She’s really patient with all of us,” she said. “If something happens and we start getting upset, she’s patient and she doesn’t get upset back at us.”
Just as Sister Crane’s gift of being able to forget about past mistakes is beneficial to her family, so too is her gift of being able to recall childhood memories. Recollections of playing outside allow Sister Crane to recognize the importance of letting her children enjoy their formative years. Similarly, the remembrance of being frustrated when her opinions were not highly valued as a child causes her to ensure that even her youngest child is always listened to.
“I feel like children need to be loved and respected when they’re little,” Sister Crane said. “Children feel loved and respected when they’re listened to, and I believe [my children] radiate confidence because my husband and I show them respect by listening to them and considering their suggestions.”
The rigors of parenting haven’t come easily for Sister Crane. Already suffering from health challenges that caused fatigue, she was diagnosed with epilepsy while pregnant with Sarah, the Cranes’ first child. Though the resulting seizures are controlled with medication, even greater fatigue is a side effect that continues today.
In the years following the diagnosis, Bishop Crane was often charged with making breakfast for the family and going grocery shopping despite being a full-time student working on his PhD.
“As I look back on it, it required a lot more cooperation for the two of us than it would’ve otherwise,” he said. “It’s really kept us engaged together and cooperating in a way that strengthened our marriage, and I’m sure it helped our children as well.”
Not only has dealing with the challenges of epilepsy helped the Cranes as a couple, but Sister Crane says it has also helped refine her as an individual.
“I think I’ve come to realize that everyone has problems,” she said.
“You might not know what someone’s problem is, but you know what yours is and it makes you struggle, it makes things hard. I think [having epilepsy] has added to my compassion for sure. … When you’re tired and when you’re having health problems of any kind, you just press forward. You move forward knowing that everyone is dealing with something.”
Sarah said her mother is doing a great job moving forward.
“Sometimes she takes a 20-minute nap, a power nap kind of thing,” she said, “but she still takes care of us and plays with us and all that good stuff.”