In the wee hours of a rainy morning in January, this stylish woman became my mother. We were each other's firsts. She, and eventually me, were living abroad in Orleans, France. Dad was stationed in the army, Mom got to join him.
From that 3 am arrival onward, Mom has been my life guide, companion, and friend. Before I was born, she took her upcoming maternal job seriously. She is an only child, therefore, child rearing, let alone infant raising were nearly mysterious processes to her. To succeed at the task ahead, she frequented the library. Returning to their small flat, climbing under the covers to keep warm from the dank rainy days, and read everything she could find on baby care. This was the woman who was going to raise me.
Before long we were touring Europe together. Museums, cathedrals, chateau's, and countries filled our itinerary. From France to Belgium, Scotland, and Germany, we made tracks. Very few photos of it exist, though I have heard a stashed box of slides is hidden somewhere. Pretty soon dad's tour of duty was complete and we were back to California.
Traveling, though, wouldn't be our life's itinerary. But home was. Mom drove countless real estate agents crazy looking for the best homes and neighborhoods for me to grow and my siblings to grow up in. She had learned the value of neighborhoods and surroundings from her blue-collar upbringing.
Beyond homes, and dwellings, mom had a dream that we kids would have advantages she craved as a child. Not for fame or glory, but for joy and opportunity. She insisted on swim lessons for all of us, as well as bicycles,
and other outdoor activities. Many of these driven from a lack of access to those opportunities in her life. The swim lessons came as the biggest surprise to her. They produced three successful competitive swimmers. Something she never dreamed of. Our success, brought her a new role. Volunteer parent.
She took it on with gusto, enthusiasm, and astute organization. I believe we succeeded because of her sincere investments in the operation. No one who has ever succeeded at anything does it alone. All three of us earned each award as much as she did. She has nothing to show for it.
"No one who has ever succeeded at anything does it alone."
In my life, beyond sports, mom was one of the biggest sources of help, friendship, and many times therapist. Her input in my life was often unseen. The hours she would comfort my grief, or grieve for me because I couldn't. I never calculated how many homework assignments she helped edit and polish, or even complete. I only remember there were plenty of midnight burning moments as I pushed through my education.
Our companionship was not always hard work, sorrow, and effort. We had plenty of laughter and joy. From burned milk cartons on the stove to late night girl talks where the delights of dates and personal dreams were woven. She championed my every effort.
My career as a writer happened because of her. It began innocently, and unseen, through her weekly letters with her mom, my grandma. Like a dandelion that blows a million spores, those letters planted invisible seeds in my soul, and set themselves on a path to become my anchor, hobby, and life delight.
Over the recent months, I have spent extra time with her. Life is shifting, we are taking every opportunity to immerse ourselves in every minute we can. On these trips my daughters have joined me. They are her first granddaughters and grandchildren. Just as I was for mom's family. With each trip, we giggle, share memories, and talk late into the night, just like the generations of women in our family have done for centuries.
Neither of us imagined, on the cold winter morning of my birth, what a ride we would have through this life. Not every road was smooth and breathtaking, but most were, those that weren't evened themselves out in time. When we pile them all together, I am proud to have had my mom by my side through all of it. I am the luckiest girl in the world.