The Plaid Skirt: Lessons From a Mother
My mother told me so many things. She told me not to mix polka-dots with stripes; she told me nice girls don't give their big brothers a black eye; and she showed me sometimes you just have to keep on going even though it seems like life is against you.
When my mother was forty-two she was suddenly struck down from being a woman full of energy to someone who could barely get out of bed. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but not the kind that just kind of hurts here and there, it was if she had the super-duper version of it. In the beginning it was very scary, because we didn't know it could affect someone so suddenly and so severely. My mother was in a lot of pain and very depressed. I stayed home from school to take care of her. Instead of being there for me as she always had been, she withdrew. She stepped out of our lives emotionally as she dealt with this demon. I saw my mother negative and grumpy, something she almost never was before the arthritis. I guess I saw my mother "the human being" for the first time and it almost broke my heart. As a parent you never want to see your child hurting and as a child I never wanted to see my mother hurting. She was in deep pain both physically and emotionally. She cried and lay in bed for two weeks. Slowly the doctors got her back on her feet, but she was never the same sprightly woman I had known growing up. She walked slowly and every step was a labor. Her hands gnarled up and she looked so different.
"Mom, you want this?" I raised an eyebrow.
She gritted her teeth and looked at me as if she was loading a canon against the illness trying to take her down. "Yes...I want to start new.... I want to be a part of life again...I ought to show up just fine in this." We both looked at each other, tears in our eyes, oblivious to other shoppers and specials being announced over the loud speakers. She was ready to start life again.... It wouldn't be the same...but she was back, anyway.
Sometimes you just have to go about life in a proud, plaid way. My mother never told me that--like all good teachers--she showed me.