Tuesday, September 28, 2010


When I was 11 or 12 my mom started to need help with her balance while walking.  If my dad wasn’t around she would hold onto my or my sister’s arm for support. This was our normal.  I’ll never forget a trip to Target that my mom and I took together.  Just like every shopping trip we took together, I held out my arm and she used me to balance until we reached a cart and then that became her support.  A boy who rode the same school bus as I did saw my mom and I in the parking lot, the next day on the way to school he made of fun of my mom for needing help.  His words crushed me on the inside.  But not for long, because those words also changed me.  They strengthened me.  Do onto others as you would do onto yourself.  No matter what the help a person needs, they are still human… 

As the years progressed, she continued to need more and more help.  For a handful of years a walker served her just fine.  And then came the day that the walker wasn’t enough.  She would stumble and struggle and eventually fall so it was time for a wheelchair.  I remember my mom being so disappointed when the need for the wheelchair became full time.  She stayed incredible strong, persevered through so much that at times I would cry in awe of her strength.  If I were in her shoes, I would surely crumble.   But not Pat. 

On one of Kate’s Sunday visits with my mom, she brought along Olivia and Audrey.  To help pass the time, the girls colored a picture to hang on my mom’s refrigerator.  She loves to decorate her fridge—always has.  When I came the following Saturday I checked out the pictures. 

Take a look:

Audrey—she is seven


Olivia-she is nine 


That is their normal.  Pat in a wheelchair.  They’ve known nothing else. I don’t know why this struck me in a such a place that I had problems even putting words to my thoughts.  It’s my mom—like I see her everyday.  Still a little speechless. 

I made sure not to make a big deal (or any deal, really) at the pictures on the refrigerator.  Saturday, the girls and I packed up for our weekly visit to Grandma’s apartment.  Mallory was busy coloring a picture and decorating an envelope for grandma.  When she finished she was so proud to show me what the picture.  “It’s me!!  With Grandma!! And look this is after her puurrm (hence the crazy hair, my mom had a hair appointment to get a perm and Mallory had just learned the definition of the word before she drew the picture). 

After looking at the picture I asked Mallory to explain grandma’s body (before she pointed out that the person on the left wasn’t a dog, I wondered why she drew my mom so different.)


That is grandma and those (pointing at the sticks) are her arms and legs and those (pointing at the circles) are her wheels.

Her words will be her strength.  These differences will make her have empathy pouring from ever pore in her body.  This is my mission.


Tom, Jaime, Kendra said...

You are all very strong! Your blog always makes me think about life and what is important!

Alex said...

Wow, that is a powerful message. Right on!