Sunday, October 16, 2005

Mother's Day comes early

This weekend, we went camping, and I remembered a story that meant a little something to me.

I was never what you would call a wild child, and even through my teen years was relatively trustworthy, tame, and (to my parents' great joy) boring. Of course, despite this, I had a rivalrous relationship with my mother.

From the age of thirteen through fifteen, much as every teenager does, I became embarrassed of my parents. Even though I had majorly cool parents who took me on camping trips through France, Spain and Italy, took me on seemingly clandestine car and train rides through communist East Germany to reach Berlin, took me on ski trips to Switzerland and Austria--despite all this, I still felt they were total and complete dweebs. (One can hopefully be forgiven their adolescent idiocies.)

As I passed into college, my relationship with my mother was sometimes not as respectful as it should have been. I had grown physically larger, and felt physically and intellectually superior to her in every way. (Which says nothing at all about my mother--who is wonderful--but everything about my growing ego and diminishing inferiority complex. As we grow more confident in life, I suppose we trod upon those who are safest to us... our parents, siblings, etc., on our way to complete self-confidence.) I remember now being able to catch her well-deserved slaps in my hand, and biting back at her verbally. A difficult time for us both.

After going away to college, for a couple of years and coming back home one vist, I was at the peak of asserting my independence. My folks took me to an Atlanta Braves game. Sometime around the seventh inning, a fifty-something man several rows in front of us began having a heart attack. I was so frightened by this, I couldn't even look at the man.

Suddenly, my mother, a practicing RN with a lifelong career in the OR, was jumping over the chairs to reach the man. She assisted the man while simultaneously comforting his wife. She stayed with the man until the paramedics came, gave them all the details and helped him out of the stadium.

I was amazed. My mother was a superhero. One of my biggest fears is of giving first aid to someone (and screwing it up), and my mother jumped into the situation like it was just instinct. Perhaps it was. But it was also bravery.

I have always loved my mother, very much. And although even today I may tease her about her eccentricies, I still love her.

But on that summer day, I also learned to respect her.

I've never told her this story, and I doubt she even realized it was important to me. But it's time she heard it now. She's about to head down to Mississippi to help once again as a nurse and a volunteer care-giver. And I couldn't be more proud of her.

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