We can all sometimes feel like the world is ganging up on us all at once. To stay on this cliché train, I think it’s safe to suggest that, at some point in time, all of us have taken stock of the circumstances surrounding us, shaken our heads and muttered, “When it rains, it pours.”
Come on, you know what I mean. You get up in the morning, go to make a hot cup of “wake-up” and you find you’re out of coffee. You run to the coffee shop, knowing you’re up against the clock in a frantic race to get to work in time and you see that the line extends all the way to the door. Frenzied, you turn around to leave, sans coffee, and get out to your car, only to find that your battery is dead. And, yeah, the day keeps rolling like that until you wave your metaphorical white flag, pull the covers over your eyes and hope you awaken to a brand new day that doesn’t seem intent on grinding you into the dirt.
It’s days like that you look around and wonder, “Is there anything that can go right today? Is there anyone in my corner?”
That’s what we all need in life, right? Someone in our corner? We can be surrounded by co-workers, friends, family, neighbors... what have you. All of those people can be valued presences in our lives, and individuals we really enjoy being around. But when the chips are down, and things seem their bleakest, we all want that person to turn to that we know won’t judge you or turn their back.
If you’re fortunate, you might have one of these rocks in your life. If you’re extremely lucky, you might have more than one. I actually consider myself one of those blessed individuals, as several people in my life have shown themselves to be true-blue when I have needed them the most.
But only one has been there for me, without question, since day one of the journey — Mom.
Needed food? Mom was there. Skinned my knee? The lady came running with a bandage and a kiss. Had a house party while she was out of town that involved the police? Well, she whipped my butt and threatened a one-way ticket to Siberia, but there was value in that, too. I assure you that was my only house party.
My point is that she was always there. Always. Even when I didn’t make it easy for her.
We knocked heads over things. We raised our voices at each other, slammed doors and argued politics until we would both throw up our hands in disgust and walk away. There were, and I don’t say this lightly, moments in time when I was convinced she might commit an atrocity upon my person as I slept, and I can’t say it wouldn’t have been deserved.
And, you know what? She’d still have my back.
But she offered more than just discipline or a shoulder to lean on when things got tough. Without knowing it, she served as an inspiration, as well.
I watched her juggling her responsibilities as a mother of some tough-to-wrangle kids with going back to college and earning her degree. I noticed as she earned her teaching credentials and taught Latin and English, and I’d beam with pride inside when friends of mine who took her classes would talk about how much she cared about her students. When the rest of the family was fully-engrossed in watching “Cheers” on television, I’d see how she was sitting at the kitchen table grading exams or putting together her lesson plans.
Children do notice those things, even if they sometimes don’t take the 30 seconds to voice them to the people who should be hearing it.
The fact that I could depend on her has gone much past the time I was a minor and living under her roof. She was my penpal as I sat in a desert, often cloaked in fear and uncertainty, during the first Gulf War. She was my cheerleader when I first started getting articles published, and saved clips in a scrapbook for me. She has hugged me, given me words of encouragement and smacked poor grammar out of my mouth as soon as the words found air.
She’s my rock.
Last year, my mother was diagnosed with a very scary breed of cancer that often ends poorly for people. Family members were burning up the phone lines, terrified about what was happening, and even more afraid of what was potentially coming down the pike. I spent a good chunk of my personal time on Google, researching and praying for glimmers of hope, while wiping tears out of my eyes more times than I’m comfortable admitting.
Mom? She said she didn’t even want to hear any of that stuff, and decided to just put her head down, do what the doctors said and fight. She had major surgery, absorbed all the chemicals they pushed her way and would always answer the same way when I would ask how she was feeling: “Oh, you know. I’m fine. Just tired. How’s my granddaughter doing?”
Through God’s grace, a sharp doctor finding the cancer early enough, her resiliency or just dumb luck, my mother has now had two clean scans, and the rest of us simply chuckle and shake our heads. I’ll paraphrase what my sister said in a not-suitable-for-work declaration: Mom kicked cancer’s heiney.
It is with great pride, admiration and flat-out hero-worship that I thank my mother for all she has done for me over the years, and wish her the very best of Mother’s Days this year.
You’re my rock, lady. And I love you.